How is quantum different?
Forrester believes CIOs should apply themselves to understanding quantum computing if they hope to realise its potential in their spheres of influence.
Everything is much smaller, and much more powerful – unlike its mainstream cousin, quantum computing vendors talk about qubits rather than 1s and 0s. Freed of a limited binary value, a qubit is a much richer unit of information that can work simultaneously on huge information spaces. Using quantum effects, qubits can deliver correct answers from many possible solutions almost instantaneously. However, qubits require a whole new field of computer science, software and hardware, relying on subatomic physics.
No standard unit of measurement – Classical computing uses bits and hertz as standards by which to measure a computer’s power, which proves useful when comparing vendors. However, a quantum computer’s power is more complex to measure. IBM has made the suggestion of ‘quantum volume’ as a benchmark, but Forrester has cautioned that this has not been universally accepted.
Programming challenges – Vendors are currently providing specialised quantum computers with algorithms that use small-scale quantum logic to solve domain-specific problems. The challenge is to build a scalable universal quantum computer which can, like today’s classical computers, be programmed to solve almost any problem. IBM and Microsoft have set themselves to the task, but Forrester warns they (and others) will face engineering challenges such as scaling the hardware, error correction and improving coherence time.
How long until Quantum computing becomes a reality?