The race for quantum computing took a giant leap forward as Honeywell, renowned for its futuristic technological advances secured a fresh lead.
The North Carolina-based global technology powerhouse made an announcement last week Thursday that it has built the fastest quantum computer in the world. The quantum computer built by Honeywell is twice as powerful as the existing ones which are being operated by IBM and Google.
What is a quantum computer?
A quantum computer is a very powerful ultra-supercomputer that taps into some of the physical processes of quantum mechanics to produce gigantic processing powers that normal computers cannot.
The main goals of quantum computers is to drive exciting advances in various scientific and technological fields like pharmaceutical research, materials science, etc.
A lot of companies are already experimenting with them at the moment to develop things like powerful batteries that will power electric cars as well as to help produce novel drugs.
One of quantum computer’s main advantage lies in its capacity to generate and manipulate quantum bits(qubits). In other words, a quantum computer has the ability to start and finish calculations beyond the limits of classic modern day computers and supercomputers.
The latest supercomputer built by Honeywell is currently situated in a 1,500-square-foot high-security building in Boulder, Colorado.
It comprises of a chamber made of stainless steel that is the size of basketball. This basketball-like chamber is cooled by a liquid helium that is a little above absolute zero in temperature; this is the point in which atoms stop vibrating. Inside this chamber, singular atoms which are floating above a computer chip are directed with lasers to perform calculations.
Although there’s been studies going on for a while now with regards to the huge potential of quantum computing for decades, it has mostly remained at the research level until recently. At the forefront of the drive for quantum computing also are Google and IBM.
Honeywell started plans to build the machine when it began developing the technology to build laser tools and cryogenics years ago. For the past five years, Honeywell assembled a team consisting of hundred technologists dedicated only to building the machine. In March, 2020, Honeywell made an announcement that the machine will be ready in three months. However, the Covid-19 pandemic made changed a lot of things, forcing some of their employees to work remotely.
“We had to completely redesign how we work in the facilities, had to limit who was coming on the site, and put in place physical barriers,” says Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions. “All of that happened at the same time we were planning on being on this race.”
The current advancement means that companies that want to execute their own large calculations can now apply to the company, a service that costs about $10,000 an hour according to a company executive.
According to Honeywell, they have a contract with JPMorgan Chase. The contract will allow JPMorgan use their own quantum experts to execute gigantic tasks like designing and building financial fraud detection models.
For companies who do not have in-house quantum experts, they can send queries through intermediary quantum firms like Cambridge Quantum Computing and Zapata Computing.
Accordinv to Uttley, a company executive, greater access to the technology has made sure that quantum computing has graduated from a mere item of fascination to actual physical application. It can be used to solve issues like climate change as well as pharmaceutical development. Moving forward, Honeywell plans to increase the quantum volume of the machine by a factor of ten(10) every year for the next five years, attaining a figure of 640,000; a capability far beyond anything ever imagined before.