mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2019


 

From the editor's desk: When will we get our first quantum computers?
21 February 2018, News

For the past few years, the buzz around quantum computing has been growing steadily louder, but it has mostly been coming from university laboratories and advanced corporate R&D facilities. Now household names are getting in on the action, and a number of technical milestones have either been reached or are imminent.

But what will the effects on mainstream computing be, and will it impact on those of us who design systems based on computer technology and/or use them in our everyday lives?

It would take a thesis to properly define the difference between how a quantum computer operates versus a traditional one, but as a very simple explanation, imagine a coin being flipped. Once it lands and comes to rest, we know it will either be a head or a tail, but while it’s in the air, we can’t know which outcome will transpire. In the world of quantum computing, that coin represents a qubit, or quantum bit, and, incredibly, it exists in both states at the same time – until we observe it, at which time it becomes fixed in one particular state. Confused? Most people would be, which is why it takes some of the best minds to come to terms with, and big budgets to put into practice.

In November 2017, IBM announced it had developed a 50 qubit quantum computer, and was making a 20 qubit system available through its cloud computing platform. These qubits are highly unstable though, as their quantum state is preserved for only 90 microseconds, which was nevertheless a record at the time.

Intel managed to fabricate a 17 qubit superconducting test chip for a laboratory in the Netherlands, and Microsoft has created a quantum programming language designed to work with its Visual Studio IDE. The IDE allows users to simulate problems that require up to 30 logical qubits using a PC, and Microsoft is also building a quantum computer of its own. Google, though, is widely considered to be at the forefront of the race to achieve ‘quantum supremacy’, which is to solve a computing problem demonstrably faster than a regular computer can.

So what are all these qubits good for? At this point, not much. They can and have been used to model simple molecules and simulate their behaviour at a quantum mechanical level. Classical computing can also be used for this purpose, but not nearly as fast. Still, it is estimated to require up to 160 qubits to model something as seemingly simple as a caffeine molecule, which is still beyond reach at this time.

Other potential applications include optimisation algorithms and artificial intelligence, but the most practical application is in data encryption – particularly topical in the current era of global cyberattacks. Since qubits have indeterminate states until they are observed, they can be used to encrypt data in such a way that it is almost impossible to crack the code. Unless, of course, a hacker has a quantum computer of their own, then it becomes an arms race all over again.

It is estimated that 2020 or 2021 will mark the first time that quantum computing will begin to start demonstrating advantages for real users, corporations and scientific research. Even then, the first commercial quantum computers will need a decent sized room to house them, and will cost several millions of dollars, so don’t expect to have one sitting on your desk anytime soon.

Brett van den Bosch

Editor


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Technews Publishing
Tel: +27 11 543 5800
Fax: +27 11 787 8052
Email: malckey@technews.co.za
www: www.technews.co.za
  Share on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Electronics news digest
    29 May 2019, News
    South Africa • South Africa will soon join the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network (C4IR Network) alongside China, India and Japan by launching an affiliate ...
  • From the editor’s desk: US-China trade war hits chip makers
    29 May 2019, Technews Publishing, News
    The escalating trade war between the US and China has the global economy on high alert, and unless things normalise soon it is going to have massive ramifications on many industries. Following US president ...
  • Otto Wireless scoops two new agencies
    29 May 2019, Otto Wireless, News
    Otto Wireless Solutions has recently been appointed as the official distributor for two overseas manufacturers of RF and microwave components: Taiwanese microwave ceramic components designer and manufacturer, ...
  • Actum acquires Band-It business in South Africa
    29 May 2019, Actum Electronics, News
    The Actum Group has acquired Banding and Identification Solutions Africa (BISA), the leading distributor of Band-It clamping and fastening products in South Africa. The transaction, which was finalised ...
  • CSIR outlines new strategy
    29 May 2019, News
    The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) has revealed details about its new strategic direction, built around the vision of accelerating socioeconomic prosperity in South Africa through ...
  • The ubiquity of IoT in design
    29 May 2019, News
    The Internet of Things (IoT) is a wave that impacts all ‘verticals’ and ‘horizontals’ of the digital evolution, and organisations who deliver design and manufacturing services in this hazy matrix are ...
  • Otto Wireless presents the T-Link Experience
    29 May 2019, Otto Wireless, News
    On 20 June, Otto Wireless Solutions, together with TP-Link, will be hosting a half-day product showcase conference at Riversands conference venue. The event will be an intense half-day session, commencing ...
  • Electronics news digest
    30 April 2019, News
    South Africa • The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) – which will turn 75 in 2020 – has plotted a new strategic direction built around the vision of accelerating socioeconomic prosperity ...
  • From the editor’s desk: The unseen role of component distributors
    30 April 2019, Technews Publishing, News
    FAEs play an essential role in bridging the engineering world where things are designed and made, and the business world where big decisions are taken and money changes hands.
  • Is the supply chain broken?
    30 April 2019, Electrocomp, Diel Met Systems, ExecuKit, NuVision Electronics, RF Design, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    The world’s insatiable demand for electronic goods has created a monster: a supply chain that spans the globe and relies on the entirety of our collective knowledge and experience in the pursuit of industry.
  • Win an AVR-IoT WG development board
    30 April 2019, News
    Dataweek readers are being offered the opportunity to win a Microchip Technology AVR-IoT WG development board (AC164160) to make it easy to deploy IoT devices to Google Cloud IoT Core’s artificial intelligence ...
  • 4IRSA launches digital economy summit
    30 April 2019, News
    The launch of South Africa’s first ‘digital economy’ summit, endorsed by Cabinet, was announced at the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Hub by the minister of telecommunications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, ...

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronics Buyers’ Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.