December 4, 2019
Amazon Web Services is previewing a quantum computing service to a select group of enterprise customers. The service, Amazon Braket, will allow enterprise customers to develop and test quantum algorithms in simulations to determine if and how quantum computing could be beneficial. “Braket” refers to a standard notation that describes quantum states. Its early stage quantum computer hardware includes solutions from D-Wave Systems, IonQ and Rigetti Computing. Amazon anticipates a wide rollout of the service in 2020.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Alphabet’s Google, IBM and Microsoft are also working on quantum computing solutions, with the latter two permitting clients to experiment with the hardware over their cloud. Amazon and Microsoft combined were responsible for 60 percent of the cloud market in 2018.
Among the clients taking advantage of AWS’ new offer is Boeing, which hopes quantum computing can “potentially speed up materials-science research and … secure communications.” AWS vice president of technology Bill Vass noted that, “quantum computing could also be useful for transportation and logistics companies, including Amazon,” offering the ability to “help find more efficient routes to get deliveries from one place to another while avoiding traffic, all in near real-time.”
AWS is also creating the AWS Center for Quantum Computing near and in collaboration with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. The Center’s goal is to “research technology that might enable quantum computers to be mass-produced and to identify applications that are best solved on quantum computers.” Although no commercial quantum computer has yet been built, the idea is powerful since it will “have the potential to sort through a vast number of possibilities in nearly real time and come up with a probable solution.”
AWS director of quantum computing Simone Severini noted that her company believes “a substantial amount of work will need to be done for the promise of quantum computing to become real.”
IBM has been offering customers “access to early-stage quantum-computing machines over its cloud since 2016,” and, in October, Google “announced a quantum-computing experiment that generated about 1 million random strings of numbers in roughly three minutes.” Google claimed (and IBM disputed) that this task “would have taken the world’s fastest conventional supercomputer 10,000 years.”
In November, Microsoft “unveiled cloud-based quantum-computing tools that companies can use to speed up calculations on classical computers, among other things.”