The feat fulfills a promise made by Honeywell in March and is a milestone in the company's ambitious effort to increase its quantum computing power over the next five years by a factor of 10 per annum.
👉@Honeywell’s quantum computer is now commercially available — enterprise customers can access the machine either directly through one of its own interfaces or via Microsoft's #Azure #Quantum portal: https://t.co/mG9WbfXrBL#HPC #QuantumComputing #ComputationalScience pic.twitter.com/ZxTYOwADvi— Kirk Borne at #HPEDiscover (@KirkDBorne) June 22, 2020
Honeywell's quantum computer, dubbed H0, scored 64 on a quantity measure known as volume. That test gages both the total qubits count of a machine - the fundamental elements that process data in a quantum computer - and how well those qubits are used by the machine. In January the result bested the Raleigh machine of the 32 IBM scored.
Quantum computing is based on the strange rules of atomic physics to solve problems that are almost impossible for ordinary "classical" computers. That is the promise, at least. So far, quantum computers are mostly finicky research projects, with only one narrow "quantum supremacy" test at Google outperforming classical computers.
But as researchers add more qubits, and learn to protect them from disturbances that derail calculations, they expect more powerful quantum computers. Tasks that they are expected to do well include optimise financial portfolios, learning machines and developing new materials such as solar panels or batteries.
Honeywell was a top manufacturer of massive mainframes decades ago but it sold the business and left the computing industry to other players. It has quietly assembled a team of 120 researchers in Colorado and Minnesota in recent years, using its materials science and industrial operations expertise to tackle quantum computing.
Honeywell's current design, H0, will go all the way from the quantity volume of 64 to 640,000 today as the company adds more qubits, said Tony Uttley, president of the quantum computing division at Honeywell. "Think of an auditorium with lots of seats. We've built the infrastructure to be an auditorium. We 're filling it out a few seats at a time," he said. To reach beyond that, he added, another system, H1, is in development.
It is important to have the number of qubits in a quantum computer. More qubits means researchers can address more complex problems with more possible solutions, possibly having enough that groups of them can be combined into single virtual qubits to enable much more sophisticated calculations. But qubit count alone is an imperfect measure of performance, which is why IBM created quantum volume.
"IBM 's quantity benchmark is one of the earliest attempts to address this issue, and others will inevitably come down the pike as quantum computers become more capable," James Sanders, 451 Research Analyst. But for now, IBM and Honeywell machines can at least be compared easily.