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A Working Quantum Computer in 3 Years?

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the not-with-my-quanta-you-don't dept.

Technology 292

prostoalex writes "Vancouver, BC-based D-Wave Systems got $17.5 mln from Draper Fisher Jurvetson to work on a preliminary version of a quantum computer, Technology Review reports. Delivery date? Within three years: 'It won't be a fully functional quantum computer of the sort long envisioned; but D-Wave is on track to produce a special-purpose, "noisy" piece of quantum hardware that could solve many of the physical-simulation problems that stump today's computers, says David Meyer, a mathematician working on quantum algorithms at the University of California, San Diego.'"

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292 comments

With the good comes the bad. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879435)

I hope there will be some kind of security involved if these things get built. Can you imagine if a terrorst organisation got their hands on one of them? It would be trivial to design a bomb large enough to take out 96% of the united states.

Re:With the good comes the bad. (1, Insightful)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879449)

Hate to burst your little american-centric bubble, 'educated' as you know doubt are by dubya's propaganda machine, but having a damned powerful computer in no way makes it easier for someone to design a bomb, as me having XCode makes it easy for me to write a program, as I can't actually program. Unless they're already a dems expert, it won't mean shit unless these things ship with a BuildMeANuke.app running on them. And of course there is the little fact that it's fairly easy to build bombs bug enough to take out 100% of the US. Not that 100% of the US is actually worth targeting. You'd hit the major cities and military bases and go on to targeting your real enemies, which since I'm guessing you're using Bush's definition of terrorist (aka Arab), would probably be Tel Aviv.

Re:With the good comes the bad. (1)

golgotha007 (62687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879488)

Having a private super-computer in your garage would give you the power to decrypt standard government encryption (still at 56bit?).

It's similar to having a cache of firearms in your garage; expect a visit from the government who wants to know what you're doing with it.

Re:With the good comes the bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879639)

" Having a private super-computer in your garage would give you the power to decrypt standard government encryption (still at 56bit?)"

Is your gov not 'protecting' you adequately?

Or is it itself(your gov) a stealing/lying/plundering villan ??

I think the 'world' needs 'protection' from your gov, so anything to 'break' them is welcomed by me!!!

YHBT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879523)

YHBT

Re:With the good comes the bad. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879673)

Honest to God, I think those anti-ware hippies can tie in the fact that war is bad into anything, including posts on quantum computing. Next up, PETA passes message through nanomachines.

Re:With the good comes the bad. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879694)

Did you mean anti-hardware, anti-software or both?

Re:With the good comes the bad. (0, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879701)

but having a damned powerful computer in no way makes it easier for someone to design a bomb

Unless they know how to build a bomb, and their job would be easier (or produce more horrific results) with better tools.

Unless they're already a dems expert, it won't mean shit

You mean, like all sorts of ex-Soviet military scientists? Or some fairly-well-trained folks in Iran or North Korea?

And of course there is the little fact that it's fairly easy to build bombs bug enough to take out 100% of the US.

You must mean that it's possible to build enough bombs for that purpose. Or, that a handful of them, all in key cities, would be economically devastating enough to have that general effect.

which since I'm guessing you're using Bush's definition of terrorist (aka Arab)

Terrorists are as terrorists do. So far we're not running into a lot of Swedish or Japanese terrorists. The part of the world, culturally, that seems happy to blow up restaurants and buses because their religious leaders say that's what Allah wants them to do, seem to mostly be from the middle east. There are abberations (we've had a few domestic ones, and there's always the IRA, or those cultists in Japan a few years back), but it really makes the most sense to pay attention to places in the world where chanting "death to America" is part of every news broadcast, and where the more extreme margins of the cultures that support that attitude also have the time, money, and inclination to act on the urge (and have a demonstrated history of actually doing it). You didn't think that the people dead in Madrid were killed by unhappy Spaniards, did you?

Re:With the good comes the bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879456)

Someone please alert the parents of this 12-year-old, he clearly snuck out to the computer while he was supposed to be sleeping.

Re:With the good comes the bad. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879458)

HAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHHA!
AHAHAHAHHAHAHAH AHHA!

Thanks man, thats the funniest thing I read all week. See this is why I read /. and not just the sites that delete stupid comments.

Re:With the good comes the bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879599)

Personally I think taking out 96% of the US, would do the rest of the world a favour.

Thats my opinion anyway, y'all.

Re:With the good comes the bad. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879732)

Possibly, if it weren't for the fact that it'd prolly cause a sudden economic collapse

Re:With the good comes the bad. (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879742)

Not sure about the ethics of that but it would certainly help solve the travelling salesmen problems.

SalesBoss: Salesman, use your sales skills and this new computer to visit all our target customers throughout the US as efficiently as you can.
SalesMan: Computer, provide me with the most efficient route to our customers in the US
Computer: Citizens in the US have been eliminated, your travel milage is Zero. Please stay where you are.

Quantum Computing... (5, Funny)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879436)

Yeah, but will it play Duke Nukem Forever??

Re:Quantum Computing... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879467)

You will have to kill the cat to know...

Re:Quantum Computing... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879642)

i don't get it

Re:Quantum Computing... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879680)

read: schroeder's cat

Re:Quantum Computing... (1)

ihtagik (318795) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879723)

I believe the correct term is em>Schrodinger's cat...

Re:Quantum Computing... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879666)

that's just the best anonymous coward post i've ever seen

Re:Quantum Computing... (0)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879483)

By the time that eventually gets released i expect things to be in a Yottah-herz rating

Re:Quantum Computing... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879610)

Yoctohertz?

Re:Quantum Computing... (1, Informative)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879633)

ignoring my typ-o of hertz
from the wikipedia article
"A yottahertz (YHz) is a unit of frequency equal to a septillion hertz or a thousand zettahertz. "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yottahertz [wikipedia.org]
10^24

More importantly... (1)

eurleif (613257) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879522)

Will it run Longhorn?

Re:Quantum Computing... (1, Funny)

Trollstoi (888703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879543)

Yeah, but will it play Duke Nukem Forever??

Forever? No, just for a few hours.

Re:Quantum Computing... (5, Funny)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879546)

It will, unfortunately, you'll never be able to observe it being played, just see the end result...

QC Shell>run DukeNukem

The end boss was really tough.

QC Shell>_

Re:Quantum Computing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879604)

No.
According to the Uncertainty Principle,
DN Forever ~ h/(2pi),
which implies DN -> 0.
QED

Re:Quantum Computing... (4, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879613)

Yeah, but will it play Duke Nukem Forever??

More importantly, will it be able to vertically integrate with a scalable ecommerce solution to provide dynamic interaction for the customer and enterprise??

Re:Quantum Computing... (1)

Graemee (524726) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879664)

No, it won't be ready. They'll have to rewrite again. Also the video card will require more power than your house and cost as much a small developing nation's international debt.

Re:Quantum Computing... (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879712)

No. Haven't you heard that it's been excluded from Longhorn?

Mathematician (5, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879437)

says David Meyer, a mathematician working on quantum algorithms at the University of California, San Diego.
I will believe this when it comes from an experimental physicist.

Obviously, (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879438)

we need this to run Longhorn on Duke Nukem Forever...

There's one now! (0, Offtopic)

TrickFred (231420) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879439)

There's already one out there...

http://darwinia.co.uk/ [darwinia.co.uk]

If they build a QC will they say... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879440)

All your possible answers are belong to us!

Re:If they build a QC will they say... (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879492)

There's only one answer:

42!

Quantum is just another buzzword (3, Insightful)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879442)

The whole mania behind this technology is that somehow we will be able to pull correct data out of thin air using the magical properties of quantum units. Somehow eigenvalues will just instantaneously pop into existence by the careful selection of input parameters.

Too bad that's not how it works. These computers will still have to process data the same as any other processor and all the threat behind magically decoding 128-bit encryption is pure fluff. We are talking about another way of computing, for sure, but it is just another step in the evolution of computing systems rather than a brand new magic bullet for encryption maniacs.

It is also unclear why people want to build a "quantum computer" when it seems that simply putting it on a peripheral board and using it as a separate calculation machine seems to be a much more straightforward application of the device than trying to cram a whole computer with these chips.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879478)

when it seems that simply putting it on a peripheral board and using it as a separate calculation machine seems to be a much more straightforward application of the device than trying to cram a whole computer with these chips.

I think that will be the idea. Unfortunately we can't even do that!

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (5, Insightful)

Stalyn (662) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879517)

Yeah... quantum was a buzzword in 1905. But now it's actual science and proven. Quantum mechanics and QFT are two of the most successful theories to date. Yes there are conflicts with GR. And yes QM and QFT are most likely incomplete. However for a quantum computer there is no need for a theory that will supersede QM/QFT. The domain for quantum computing is well within the reach of QM itself.

Actually things like superdense coding and quantum teleportation have been verfied in the lab. So this stuff isn't exactly nonsense.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879564)

Actually, there are no conflicts with general relativity (GR). It is, indeed, somewhat spooky that quantum bits can influence each other instantaneously over arbitrarily long distances (in case of entaglement), but for this "influence" to be used for any kind of useful infrormation transfer, transmission of classical information is required, thus limiting the effective transfer speed at light speed for _any_ kind of information channel, even when using quantum correlation based channels :-)

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (2, Informative)

Stalyn (662) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879691)

Yeah the area of QM that quantum computation deals with has no relevenace to GR. However one can not deny QM/QFT as a whole conflicts with GR in some areas. GR for example says mass curves spacetime however the spacetimes we deal with in QM/QFT are flat!

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879741)

You can put a QFT on a curved space-time (but I don't know anything about this, suffice to say it's bloody hard and you get things like the Unrah effect and other acceleration anomalies). I think the problem is that quantum field theories of symmetric tensor fields (i.e., gravity) are non-renormalisable.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (2, Insightful)

Hungus (585181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879637)

I agree with your statement except for the "But now it's actual science and proven."
We have got to remember that no matter how much we like to think that science can prove something it can't the heart of the scientific theory is to disprove things in other words to be scientific a claim must be falsifiable [wikipedia.org] . Good theories remain just that, theories. Bad theories get falsified and thrown away. The quantum theories are good and so have endured thus far.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879643)

Quantum mechanics and QFT are two of the most successful theories to date.

You mean that we are closer to building a working quantum computer, than we are to getting gravity to work?

Damn, I can't wait until we get gravity to work, so I can get my computer down on the desk.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (5, Insightful)

ettlz (639203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879519)

Good points. There are few "good" uses for quantum computers --- mainly, breaking public keys by factorising the product of two large primes (which may prove unrealisable in practise: I don't know how long one could keep an O(100) qbit state coherent), QM simulations (i.e., designable software experiments), and searching databases more quickly than classically possible. There will always be a need for classical computers.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879605)

There will always be a need for classical computers.

I suspect that "always" is rather longer than you appreciate. "Classical" computers have been around for less than a hundred years; as inventions go they haven't even exhibited even an interesting longevity, much less irreplaceability.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879724)

I suspect that "always" is rather longer than you appreciate.

I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at here. "Always" is a pretty long time (hence emphasis).

...as inventions go [classical computers] haven't even exhibited even an interesting longevity, much less irreplaceability.

Again, I'm probably missing your point, but what about healthcare, transport, communications, lifestyle, construction, entertainment, etc., etc.? One thing classical computers are good at is automation. How would a quantum computer improve on a classical one in this respect?

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879529)

Your post is pure fluff. You don't know what you are talking about.

With a (good enough) quantum computer it is possible to factor large numbers (Shor's algorithm) and to break various public key cryptography. (RSA, Elliptic curve crypto). So I would say that it is clear why people want to build one.

(Though it is expected to take a while before the quantum computers are good enough. A few years ago they built one that was able to factor the number 15...)

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879636)

With a (good enough) quantum computer it is possible to factor large numbers (Shor's algorithm) and to break various public key cryptography. (RSA, Elliptic curve crypto). So I would say that it is clear why people want to build one.

Yes, the pressing desire to read the mail of those people who haven't switched algorithms. Obviously this is worth spending billions on.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (3, Insightful)

Deanalator (806515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879698)

Yes, the pressing desire to read the mail of those people who haven't switched algorithms. Obviously this is worth spending billions on.

Or how about being able to solve the hardest math problems we have ever been able to think up as a species in mere seconds?

Shor's algorithm is great because we have been working on trying to understand the primes since the dawn of mathematics. You also dont seem to understand that once this takes hold, there will be no more public key algorithms. PKE is based on the idea that some math problems are harder to solve than to verify. Given a large enough quantum computer, that really is no longer the case.

It is my opinion that being able to harness the computational power of the universe as our own personal calculators is well worth the billions being invested.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879743)

It is not necessarily true that a quantum computer will mean the end of public key crypto. True, the most popular systems today (RSA, ECC) are vunerable, but for some other systems it is currently not known if/how a quantum computer can be used to break it. (NTRU, or HFE-based systems). A quantum computer is not so much a wonder device that can do any computation at increadible speeds. It uses a whole new concept of computing (not based on classical Turing machines) that some algorithms can benefit from (typically it is good at finding periods of periodic functions) but for other computations it doesn't seem to help.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (2, Interesting)

Deanalator (806515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879649)

Well, first off, dwave already has solid state quantum computers, they are just freaking expensive, and for the number of qubits, it just isnt worth it at the moment.

Second, we all know that we are pretty far away from shors factorization algorithm, but at least with the technology that dwave is using (cooper pairs in superconductors), there is a chance of hitting that point sometime in the future.

NMR computers are fun to play with, and are pretty cheap for the number of qubits you can use, but will not likely ever get past 15 or so qubits, because it relies (from what I understand) on each qubit needing to be in the same molecule, and they need to be different atoms, which is rough to do. It seems that alot of people think "most quantum computers are NMR"+"NMR will never work for shors algorithm with large numbers"="quantum computers will never work with shors algorithm", which is just dumb.

Dwave is far more interested in molecular simulation, which could be useful anywhere from creating new medicines, to designing new polymers for the superpants of the future.

Third, no one is stupid enough to try to build a state machine with a quantum computer :-) The end result will be more like a graphics card, where the computer sends the data to the card, and the card replies with the results. Of course, I highly doubt anything like this will be small enough to fit into a PCI slot anytime soon. Maybe a REALLY big USB device or something.

Re:Quantum is just another buzzword (1)

vladrac25 (784902) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879697)

obviously you don't actually understand how quantum computing works

Speeds? (2, Insightful)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879444)

When quantum computing first hit the more "mainstream" press a few years ago it was hoped that they would start to be produced initailly close to the 10GHz mark. Anyone else got a more accurate figure these days?

__
Funny Adult Vido Clips [laughdily.com]

Frequency=! Speed (2, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879526)

No matter how fast or slow those computers (or better specific algorithm executers) will be is unclear, but forget thinking in Ghz or something for Quantum Computers.

Re:Speeds? (4, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879531)

GHz has no meaning with Quantum computers. Sorry. Visualizing QC in terms on the Pentium in your computer is invalid.

Re:Speeds? (4, Funny)

Timbotronic (717458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879730)

Bit of a problem that one. As soon as you know the speed of your quantum computer you're unable to find it...

Dang and blast! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879447)

Why didn't Steve Jobs hold out for this? Just imagine, we could have been using qMacs in three years time...

"Slashdot... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879448)

...where we spend more time predicting the news than reporting it."

Re:"Slashdot... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879504)

Oh come off it, I wasn't trolling. I was trying to make a funny *rolleyes*

Re:"Slashdot... (-1)

Wieland (830777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879627)

Then don't post AC.

Let me be the first to say... (-1, Offtopic)

JaF893 (745419) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879452)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (1)

afa (801481) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879659)

Quantum PVP may be built before that...

I'll Bet... (1, Funny)

fudg3tunn3l (883722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879459)

DOS v6.22 flies...

sorry Mods.... (1)

killawatt5k (846409) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879498)

Mod Parent up! it is so much funnier than that stupid Duke Nukem forever cliche. Now the Beo cluster cliche fits perfectly. sorry for the disturbance.

yay! (1)

LewieP (883971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879470)

finalaly it will be possible to get a random number generator that actually is random

Vaporware Award goes to.... (4, Insightful)

NoSuchGuy (308510) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879473)

The 2006, 2007, 2008 Vaporware Award goes to D-Wave Systems.

Wow, a Quantum Computer that only exist in a "Powerpoint Universe ©".

Re:Vaporware Award goes to.... (1)

squaretorus (459130) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879514)

This is quite a piece of vapor news though - and may be the most blatant to date. It uses both 'special-purpose' and 'could' in the description of the kit.

It is even remarkably specifically non-specific about what it _could_ achieve. Nice. I like.

Re:Vaporware Award goes to.... (2, Interesting)

hhawk (26580) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879598)

Sure, I mean it could be vaporware and a nice way to seperate 18 mill (US or Canidan?) from some VCs...

However, given that they have narrowed their focus (from a general purpose machine) to a special purpose machine using (they say) todays level of technology, they have a good chance..

Known and working tech + narrow problem = Engineering + Marketing = A working product

Re:Vaporware Award goes to.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879609)

You made some errors in your equation:

Known and working tech + narrow problem + Engineering = A working product

A working product + Marketing = A selling product

And I promise diamond computing tomorrow (2, Insightful)

gt_swagger (799065) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879476)

It's a conspiracy! It's all set up by Michael Crichton so he can merge Disclosure and Timeline into one dual book for $40.

On a more serious note... a fully operational quantum computing device in 3 years? Did they borrow their marketing/timeline departments from the Longhorn division of Micro$oft?

Re:And I promise diamond computing tomorrow (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879640)

I think they borrowed it from the Nuclear Energy people. That's perpetually 15 years down the road, this will be perpetually 3 years down the road.

Of course, it's a lot easier to get funding when you say "It'll work in 3 years!" as opposed to "We have no idea when this will work!"

Atoms?? (1)

kicken18 (839808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879477)

I could be wrong here, but isnt quantum computing where CPUs are atoms and not electronic circuits. So that means you can have differnt levels of atoms as they are so small, and as they are so small can fit many many (thats my word for a fuck load) of atoms on a cpu surface so if each atom can pass on 'message' and you have many levels each filled with (i have no number so we call it 1^100) atoms on each level you would be hitting speeds close to the human brain. I could be totally wrong here I am using infomation i was told about, about 2 years ago now.

Re:Atoms?? (0)

sulimma (796805) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879486)

You are wrong.

Re:Atoms?? (1)

kicken18 (839808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879489)

lol ok, i am sure there is something else along these line however where atoms are used inside a cpu, but i thoguht it was quantum computing

Re:Atoms?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879501)

Google for "cooper pair boxes". or "charge qubits"

You can make an artifical atom out of superconductors.

PS: Atom based QCs are like comparing Valves to Transitors.

Re:Atoms?? (1)

alexander_1975 (872531) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879533)

This is not the case; Actually the information needed to describe a system of let's say N atoms grows exponentially. So you don't need that much atoms, or Josephson junction circuits at all... see http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~nd/surprise_97/journal/vo l4/spb3/ [ic.ac.uk] for a short introduction.

Re:Atoms?? (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879721)

Grandparent: many levels each filled with (i have no number so we call it 1^100) atoms on each level

Parent: Actually the information needed to describe a system of let's say N atoms grows exponentially.

Actually, you are both right. To describe n atoms you need n * 1^n atoms.

Re:Atoms?? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879608)

There are two kinds of "quantum computers":

the one is a dererministic computing device (call it "pentium" or similar... ;-) which basically makes use of quantum effects to implement smaller/faster/better transistors. that's all what this one boils down to: make better transistors and build the very same computers we made so far (of course, while trying to improve things like speed, energy usage, size, costs...)

the other is a whole new kind of devices. these are devices where bits of information are not represented by small elecrtronic components meaning either '0' or '1', but by quantum mechanical systems (say: atoms, molecules or even photons) that are both '0' and '1' at the same time (each of them with a certain probability).

the very moment you try to find out in what state a given quantum bit (say: qubit) is, it "decides" whether it wants to be '0' or '1'. but until then, it is _both_ (it's not like it's either one or the other, but you just don't know... it's really _both_ of 0 and 1 at the same time!)

so the big advantage of the latter is that instead of, for example, multiplying two numbers, then multiplying other tho numbere, than others and so on, you can really multiply _all_ numbers with _all_ numbers in a single computation step (ok, that's a very simplified description, but that basically is it).

thus, it reduces the computation time for certain numbers (like cracking RSA-based encription keys) from "exponential" to "constant", or to say it in numbers: from "1000 times the age of the universe" to "5 seconds" ;-)

but all this only with a given probability -- a quantum computer is not a deterministic device, so don't imagine firing up mozilla on your brand new QC ;-) they're probably going to be available as extension cards for "classical" computers (similar to of 3D accelerator cards today...)

got my hopes up (4, Insightful)

n0rr1s (768407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879484)

... but it's not a proper quantum computer. It's based on tunneling, not entanglement. The latter is what everyone understands by the term 'quantum computer'. Their computer just requires knowledge of quantum theory to build it. Well, so do conventional computers...

Re:got my hopes up (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879536)

but it's not a proper quantum computer. It's based on tunneling, not entanglement.

Nope, it is a quantum computer qubit. E.g. Google for "Cooper pair boxes"

This is a solid state quantum computer, an artifical atom, where the state could be encoded as the presence or absence of charge on an island. It tunnels on and off quantum mechanically, creating a qubit. Its just how the underlying system works.

Entanglement requires the coupling of more than one qubit, and is more part of the maths of QM. However, this may be done practically through capacitve or inductive coupling for the above devices.

Yeah, but what QC is? (1)

mano78 (571399) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879539)

Better to clarify: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_computing [wikipedia.org]

Re:Yeah, but what QC is? (1)

hhawk (26580) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879588)

That article seems to be missing any information on QC using tunneling.

My prediction... (1, Funny)

Red Pointy Tail (127601) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879544)


Is that no one will be able to tell accurately if one will exist or not in three years until it is actually observed. :>

cool video webbie up http://www.toxichazard.com (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879550)

http://www.toxichazard.com/ [toxichazard.com]

Noise! (0, Redundant)

caluml (551744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879553)

That's what we're missing these days - noisy computers! We need whirring, and clanking, and popping, and probably a steam-powered whistle. Forget these silent PCs - I want to really know when it's doing some calculations!

Re:Noise! (1)

Rick.C (626083) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879727)

We need whirring, and clanking, and popping...

Exactly! We need a noise generator PCI card that, when left unattended, makes one heck of a din. The "system idle process" would be responsible for suppressing the noise card. When the CPU is busy, the noise card doesn't get suppressed and there is much noise.

Or, less geeky but just as effective... I have this old 5-inch SCSI hard drive that makes quite a racket that I could use for paging...

Re:Noise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879735)

Most sound cards (especially the cheap ones) are really good at picking up noise on the PCI bus. Just turn the volume up a lot and make sure you don't use it for anything else. You'll probably hear a lot of noise when the hard drive is being accessed that way.

Quantum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879573)

I had a computer with a Quantum hard drive 15 years ago,

...time is an illusion... (1, Funny)

Horus1664 (692411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879582)

Fascinating, the article is even dated July 2005, obviously a quantum effect.

NP-complete problem solver? (1)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879587)

Their site says

Quantum computers can be used to get approximate solutions to large NP-complete optimization problems much more quickly than the best known methods running on any supercomputer.

Did someone invent a quantum algorithm that makes a dent in NP-complete? News to me.

Re:NP-complete problem solver? (3, Informative)

volsung (378) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879638)

It's not too surprising since a quantum computer should let you sample an exponential number of states (exponential in the number of qubits).

A little searching on arXiv.org [arxiv.org] brought up:
Quantum Algorithm for SAT Problem and Quantum Mutual Entropy [arxiv.org]
So at least the first half of that title relates to your question.

What's the big deal? (3, Interesting)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879603)

People have been building quantum computers for years now. The biggest ones these days (around 14-qubits) are NMR quantum computers [qubit.org] , although that technique appears to have scalability issues.

Seems to me that this is only news since they plan on selling quantum-CPU time.

QCL (4, Informative)

miyako (632510) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879621)

This is somewhat offtopic, but I ran across it a few months ago and it's really interesting. QCL [tuwien.ac.at] allows you to write and run quantum algorithms. Runs on Linux and OS X with some tweaking.
The documentation that comes with it is really interesting, and gives some good insights into how quantum computing works and how to write programs for a quantum computer.

The time is NOW (2, Funny)

MaGogue (859961) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879657)

We'd better start learning Q++; or better yet preparing the port to .quant platform.
Start to code those void Byte2Qbyte(QBYTE* pOut, const BYTE *pIn) NOW!!

We should start building an open source STL extension around template class QAlgo<..>, QBit<..>, ..

It's going to be too late when they hit us with US patent #1.232.322.999 ..
OR when they start outsorcing the Q++ development to India once more..
This time, we gotta be ready!!!

Tech support? (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879668)

Yow...

I realize modern tech support doesn't need to know much to anything about electronics or computer hardware's innerworkings... but I wonder if quantum computers will change that... and how many years of school will quantum tech support need?

===

It doesn't seem likely, but it'd be neat to have the title "Quantum Mechanic" EHEH!

Re:Tech support? (1)

Elkboy (770849) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879733)

Imagine the questions the poor quantum tech support people will have to endure.

"Is your computer turned on?"
"Yes. And no."

The real world? (1, Insightful)

Keamos (857162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879670)

Can anyone tell me what this has to do with the real world? This "article" looks more like a repackaged press release to me. What real-world problems could be solved "in seconds", rather than "centuries" as the article states, IIRC?

$17.5 mln? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12879671)

Where do people come up with these? Is it really so hard to type out "million?" Who abbreviates "million" as "mln?" This is worse than "$.4M" from a little while ago.

Huh...that abbreviation appears all over the net. I still say it's stupid, but I suppose that's pretty much just because I never heard of it. No, it's just plain stupid. Do we really need to save 4 bytes?

So what OS will these suckers run? (1)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879678)

It's not like Windows is a viable option, and would Linux "scale" to one of these things?

prototype (1)

atomic-penguin (100835) | more than 9 years ago | (#12879692)

It won't be a fully functional quantum computer of the sort long envisioned...

(We'll have Quantum Pong(R) running on it.)
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