Talking to the assembled throngs at TechCrunch Disrupt 2020, Chapman said that in the next five years you will see desktop quantum machines, athough the goal is to get to a rack-mounted quantum computer.
“You know, you can’t rely on a system which is sitting in a cloud. So it needs to be on the plane itself. If you’re going to apply quantum to military applications, then you’re going to need edge-deployed quantum computers”, he said.
IonQ relies on technology pioneered in atomic clocks for its form of quantum computing. Quantum Machines doesn’t build quantum processors. Instead, it builds the hardware and software layer to control these machines, which are reaching a point where that can’t be done with classical computers anymore.
Chapman predicted that we could have edge quantum machines in situations such as a military plane, that cannot access the cloud efficiently.
Alan Baratz, CEO at D-Wave Systems thought that was pushing things a bit. He thought it all hinges on the super-conducting technology that his company is building, it requires a special kind of rather large quantum refrigeration unit called a dilution fridge, and that unit would make a five year goal of having a desktop quantum PC highly unlikely.
Itamar Sivan, CEO at Quantum Machines, too, believes we have a lot of steps to go before we see that kind of technology, and a lot of hurdles to overcome to make that happen.
“This challenge is not within a specific, singular problem about finding the right material or solving some very specific equation, or anything. It’s really a challenge, which is multidisciplinary to be solved here”, Sivan said.
D-Wave, on the other hand, uses a concept called quantum annealing, which allows it to create thousands of qubits, but at the cost of higher error rates.
As the technology develops further in the coming decades, these companies believe they are offering value by giving customers a starting point into this powerful form of computing, which when harnessed will change the way we think of computing in a classical sense. But Sivan says there are many steps to get there.