IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

During CES last week, IBM announced the IBM Q System One, the company’s first foray into commercial quantum computing outside of the lab. The 20-qubit IBM Q system combines quantum and classical computing intended for a range of business and research applications. According to IBM, these new systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” The systems are also said to be upgradeable and easy to maintain.

“While IBM describes it as the first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use,” notes TechCrunch, “it’s worth stressing that a 20-qubit machine is nowhere near powerful enough for most of the commercial applications that people envision for a quantum computer with more qubits — and qubits that are useful for more than 100 microseconds.”

This is why the company is stressing that IBM Q is a first attempt at creating such systems, and why they are upgradeable.

“The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing,” explained Arvind Krishna, SVP of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research (see the press release). “This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science.”

To build the sleek-looking nine-foot-tall by nine-foot-wide airtight box, with quantum computer suspended in the middle, IBM worked with notable European design firms Goppion, Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio.

“Those willing to pay to harness the power of the 20-qubit machine will access IBM Q System One over the cloud,” reports Digital Trends. “The hardware will be housed at IBM’s Q Computation Center, set to open this year in Poughkeepsie, New York.”

According to TechCrunch, “IBM also announced the IBM Q Network, a partnership with ExxonMobil and research labs like CERN and Fermilab that aims to build a community that brings together the business and research interests to explore use cases for quantum computing.”