Japan Enters Quantum Computing Race and Offers Free Test Drive

Saturday, December 30, 2017 - 15:09

Japan has unveiled its first quantum computer prototype, amid a global race to build ever-more powerful machines with faster speeds and larger brute force that are key towards realizing the full potential of artificial intelligence.

Japan's machine can theoretically make complex calculations 100 times faster than even a conventional supercomputer, but use just 1 kilowatt of power - about what is required by a large microwave oven - for every 10,000 kilowatts consumed by a supercomputer.

The creators - the National Institute of Informatics, telecom giant NTT and the University of Tokyo - said they are building a cloud system to house their “quantum neural network” technology.

Quantum computers take advantage of the strange physical phenomena occurring at extremely small scales. The international rush to develop the technology comes as limits emerge to speeding up and reducing the power consumption of existing semiconductor-based computers. Quantum tech offers advantages in both areas.

Some problems that would take today's supercomputers thousands of years to solve could be dispatched by quantum computers in minutes. Such ultrafast processing would help unlock the potential of artificial intelligence. Canadian startup D-Wave Systems released the first commercially available quantum computing system in 2011.

“We will seek to further improve the prototype so that the quantum computer can tackle problems with near-infinite combinations that are difficult to solve, even by modern computers at high speed,” said Stanford University Professor Emeritus Yoshihisa Yamamoto, who is heading the project.

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