Quantum computers are a bright and bold future in computing. Some companies are already positioning themselves to provide quantum cloud computing solutions. However, although quantum computing is a high-tech topic that researchers and scientists have been exploring for decades, it is only in the past five years or so that commercial interest in quantum computing has emerged.
Quantum computers will one day be the standard for all computing, but we are not at that point yet. For now, if you want access to the capabilities of a quantum computer, you will have to use a quantum cloud computing solution. Let’s explore what quantum cloud computing is and how it can be used to better the world. Along the way, we will also learn a little bit about how quantum computers work.
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What is Quantum Cloud Computing?
You are likely already familiar with cloud computing and how it works in a rudimentary sense. Cloud computing gives users the ability to store, analyze, and remotely access large amounts of data. Still, it can also be used to connect users with more powerful computer systems to complete complex, multi-variable tasks.
In a basic sense, quantum cloud computing is akin to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) or other cloud-based offerings. However, quantum cloud computing gives users remote access to powerful quantum computers and quantum systems. Accessing these computers remotely is the only option for most people because quantum hardware is so large, expensive, and difficult to maintain. Therefore, unless you work in a top-flight research facility or one of the world’s tech giants, you will likely not have direct physical access to a quantum computer.
The reality of this situation makes secure cloud-based quantum computing a very valuable service if it can be provided reliably. Quantum computers can solve nonlinear problems much faster than traditional computers. If your business is trying to solve a difficult nonlinear problem, it could take years for conventional computers to come up with a solution. This can create serious bottlenecks in research and development.
Writing a quantum algorithm and then testing it with a quantum cloud computing solution will get your team a solution much faster. We’ll highlight the benefits of quantum computing in more detail later.
What are Quantum Computers?
Now that you know more about quantum cloud computing and its extraordinary power, it will likely be helpful to know more about quantum computers themselves and why it is so difficult to sell them commercially.
Quantum computers harness the power of quantum physics to deliver incredible computing power. Traditional computers store information in small transistors. These transistors hold a single bit of information. This is represented in binary code by a one or a zero. Quantum computers store data in qubits. Qubits is short for quantum bits.
As we said, traditional computing transistors can hold a value of one or zero, but qubits can hold a value of one, zero, or a value between the two. To better understand the power of a qubit, you need a basic understanding of quantum physics. In quantum physics, a subatomic particle obeys its own laws. Basically, what this means for quantum computing is that qubits can exist in two states simultaneously. In the world of quantum physics, this is called superposition.
Quantum computing gets more powerful the more qubits you add. A Chinese company called SpinQ recently released a desktop quantum computer that costs less than five thousand dollars. However, this computer only has two qubits that provide only a little more computing power than traditional computers. Powerful quantum computers have thousands of qubits, but they cost millions of dollars.
Theories on quantum computing began emerging in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until the last ten years that these machines have actually become a scientific reality. Quantum machines are very large. One of the major logistical problems associated with quantum computing is that the superconducting circuits need to be deep-freezed. If qubits are not kept at sub-zero temperatures, they cannot maintain predictable superposition. If quantum machines get too hot, they commit calculation errors.
Available Quantum Cloud Computing Solutions
For most businesses purchasing a quantum computer is not feasible. Not only do most businesses not have the physical space to house a quantum computer, but the costs to even purchase one are very steep. Luckily, if your team wants to access quantum computing, you can use quantum cloud computing.
There are many tasks that quantum computing can assist with, from app development and building games to drug discovery and mapping complex chemical structures. Here are some of the top quantum cloud computing solutions:
- IBM Q Experience
- Amazon Braket
- D-Wave Leap
- Microsoft Azure Quantum
IBM Q Experience
IBM was one of the first major players to enter the quantum cloud computing market. The company has its own quantum computing network called IBM Q Network. IBM provides access to quantum hardware and simulators. Users can access the IBM Q Network using the Qiskit framework or the IBM Q Experience GUI. The general public can access IBM quantum machines with 5 and 16 qubits for free. Quantum machines with 65 qubits are available through the IBM Q Network.
Recently, Amazon has gotten into offering quantum cloud computing as a service with Braket. Braket is a fully managed quantum cloud computing service that was created to speed up scientific research and software development. Users can build their quantum algorithms in a dedicated development environment, test their algorithms on quantum simulators, and finally run their algorithms on quantum computers via the cloud.
D-Wave is one of the few companies that actually manufacture quantum computers for commercial sale, but they are very expensive. If you don’t have millions of dollars to spend on a quantum computer, D-Wave also offers cloud-based quantum computing with access to its Advantage quantum computer. This cloud service is called D-Wave Leap. Besides cloud access to Advantage, users also get access to hybrid solvers, the Ocean SDK, and a library of valuable learning resources so you can get the most out of quantum computing.
Microsoft Azure Quantum
Microsoft Azure is a cloud service that has teamed up with 1Qbit, Honeywell, and IONQ to develop quantum computing systems. You can use Azure Quantum to access the quantum computing resources of Microsoft’s partners in this project. Microsoft has also developed its own quantum system named Station Q.
Quantum computing is still being perfected, but if you need to crunch numbers faster than traditional computers are capable of, or you want to develop software capable of solving complex problems, you need access to a quantum computer. While these quantum machines are very expensive, you can get access to these computers via the cloud. If you want to learn more about how quantum cloud computing solutions can help your business, speak with an experienced app development partner.