CES always provides a deluge of technology and product news when it descends on Las Vegas, and this year is no different. Whether it’s companies dropping their newest 8k TVs, three-dimensional sound reproduction or new V/R tech, CES almost always delivers the goods when it comes to hot new products and prototype technologies we can’t wait to get our hands on. But, inside all the consumer-based announcements is usually a commercial nugget that could end up shifting business landscapes tectonically. IBM has put their hat in the ring for that particular distinction with their ‘IBM Q System One’, the (self-ascribed) first commercially available quantum computer ever.
Yeah, that was our reaction too. Quantum computing has been the great white whale of computational possibilities for decades. In other words, we’ve been dreaming about someone making a true quantum computer system because it could blow traditional processors out of the water for high-end, huge-lift calculations.
For a refresher on what quantum computing is and what it could mean, check out a previous article here.
We were so excited at the prospect of a company getting close to delivering the goods we made it our #1 technology to watch for in 2018 — it looks like we were a week or so early! Google was sniffing around it, as was Intel and Microsoft. But if CES 2019 is any indication, IBM has made it there first.
IBM has branded their first commercial quantum computing service ‘IBM Q System One’, and according to Business Insider, “IBM will partner with commercial clients to give them access to this technology, which will allow businesses to model complicated data, such as investments and risk.” But, clients won’t be able to exactly buy one of these babies any time soon: “The computer itself is in a 9-foot-tall, 9-foot-wide glass cube that maintains the exact correct temperature and other conditions it needs to do its work — a kind of fragility that means that you can’t just order one and have it delivered; customers will access it via the IBM Cloud.”
Much as the cloud has democratized web design, database construction, hosting (among a slew of other services you no longer have to own and operate independently), so too has _aaS business relationships. Whether it’s AIaaS like IBM’s Watson or Google’s TensorFlow, bigger companies are turning a healthy profit offering up their mainframe computing power to subscribers. This also pays off huge dividends to the subscribers, though, because it allows developers and ecosystem vendors to develop the next generation of tech that will thrive because of their access to the newer tech.
So it is with quantum computing.
Having access to quantum computing processing power will prove priceless in years to come if IBM truly has cracked this particular code. Just as we can bring AI to small businesses because of cloud-based access, IBM could be doing the same for the next generation of mold-breaking tech.
Arvind Krishna, IBM’s senior vice president of hybrid cloud and director of research, said in a statement: “This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science.”
That’s exactly what we think will happen over the next few years as more systems like this make their way to commercial availability. The BI article goes on to say as much:
“Later this year, IBM will also open its first IBM Q Quantum Computation Center for commercial customers in Poughkeepsie, New York. At this lab, clients can use IBM’s cloud-based quantum computing systems, as well as other high-performance computing systems.”
We can’t wait to see what comes of it.