D-Wave: The quantum company

D-Wave: The quantum company
19 June 2013

D-Wave is pioneering a novel way of making quantum computers — but it is also courting controversy.

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin bought one of D-Wave’s computers in 2011 for about US$10 million, and Internet behemoth Google acquired one in May.

Using qubits made from superconducting loops of niobium, cooled to 20 millikelvin above absolute zero to keep them in their lowest energy states, D-Wave’s engineers created a usable computer …

there is no good theory to describe how quantum adiabatic computers will behave on a larger scale

speed should not be taken as proof of how the device is working. “Even if the machine does get to a solution faster than an ordinary laptop,” he says, “then you still face the question of whether that’s because of quantum effects, or because a team of people spent $100 million designing a special machine optimized to these types of problems.”

the real challenge, he says, will be the software.
“Programming this thing is ridiculously hard,” he admits; it can take months to work out how to phrase a problem so that the computer can understand it.

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