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IonQ goes big in quantum computing’s numbers game

2 Oct 2020, 06:21 UTC
IonQ goes big in quantum computing’s numbers game
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Bragging rights in quantum computing, like quantum mechanics itself, can get fuzzy. Take today’s claim from IonQ that it’s creating “the world’s most powerful quantum computer.”
To back up that claim, IonQ is turning to a metric known as quantum volume. That’s a multidimensional yardstick that combines stats ranging from the number of quantum bits (a.k.a. qubits) in a computer to the system’s error rate and cross-qubit connectivity.
In today’s news release, IonQ says its next-generation system will feature 32 “perfect” qubits with low gate errors, penciling out to a quantum volume value in excess of 4 million.
Taken at face value, that would take some of the steam out of this week’s announcement by Honeywell that its quantum computing system achieved a quantum volume of 128. Which took some of the steam out of IBM’s announcement in August that it reached a quantum volume of 64. And IBM is the company that came up with the metric.
The numbers game highlights the fact that the competition in quantum computing is just getting started, more than two decades after computer scientists laid out the theoretical foundations for the field.
Under the best of circumstances, quantum computing is hard to wrap ...

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