Together with researchers from Google, the scientists set out to measure the speed of simulation in one of D-Wave's quantum annealing processors and found that performance increased with both simulation size and problem difficulty, to reach a million fold speedup over what could be achieved with a classical CPU.
The calculation that D-Wave and Google's teams tackled is a real-world problem; in fact, it has already been resolved by the 2016 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Vadim Berezinskii, J. Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless, who studied the behaviour of so-called "exotic magnetism", which occurs in quantum magnetic systems.
Instead of proving quantum supremacy, which happens when a quantum computer runs a calculation that is impossible to resolve with classical means, D-Wave's latest research demonstrates that the company's quantum annealing processors can lead to a computational performance advantage.
D-Wave performance research director at Andrew King said: "This simulation is a real problem that scientists have already attacked using the algorithms we compared against, marking a significant milestone and an important foundation for future development. This wouldn't have been possible today without D-Wave's lower noise processor."
Equally as significant as the performance milestone, said D-Wave's team, is the fact that the quantum annealing processors were used to run a practical application, instead of a proof-of-concept or an engineered, synthetic problem with little real-world relevance.
Until now, quantum methods have mostly been used to prove that the technology has the potential to solve practical problems, and is yet to make tangible marks in the real world.