A Canadian company called D-Wave is holding a big unveiling today at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, of the world’s first quantum computer. The CTO of the company has an interesting blog post from mid-January talking about what they intend to demo.
The Orion system is a hardware accelerator designed to solve a particular NP-complete problem called the two dimensional Ising model in a magnetic field. It is built around a 16-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum computer processor. The system is designed to be used in concert with a conventional front end for any application that requires the solution of an NP-complete problem.
If this takes off I’m going to have to dust off my physics books. The D-Wave blog also has pointers to a collection of papers with some technical details on what’s going on under the covers. From (brief) coverage at PhysOrg.com
Though most engineers thought quantum computers were decades away, D-Wave says the digital “bits” that race through the circuits of its computer are able to stand for 0 or 1 at the same time, allowing the machine to eventually do work that is far more than complex than that of digital computers.