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I like to qubit, qubit – AWS debuts quantum computing service

Written by Tue 3 Dec 2019

Amazon to provide access to third-party quantum tech via its cloud

Amazon has finally made its entrance into the quantum arena with the launch of a service for AWS that enables scientists and developers to experiment with the weird and wonderful world of quantum computing.

Braket, named after the common notation for quantum states, launched in preview today and will compete with IBM, Microsoft and Google on the futuristic frontier of cloud-based quantum computing. IBM launched its quantum cloud service in 2016, while Google and Microsoft plan to launch similar services in the near future.

Unlike IBM and Google, who are making their own quantum hardware available over the internet (and have been known to shout about whose quantum kit is superior), Amazon is not spending time in the quantum garage but instead syncing D-Wave, IonQ and Rigetti’s quantum infrastructure to its all-conquering cloud.

Sticking to its strengths makes sense, given that the 10-year-old quantum research projects of IBM and Google are twice as old as Amazon’s. Amazon will save a lot of money by letting others flesh out their quantum technologies while it hosts them on its cloud. For now, however, Amazon is not actually installing third-party quantum computers in its data centres but offering access to the machines via the AWS interface.

Quantum computing leverages the quirky world of subatomic particles to encode data in more powerful ways. While a lot of noise has been made about quantum computing there still exist no practical use cases of the tech. Accordingly, in addition to its cloud service, AWS is also launching the AWS Center for Quantum Computing and AWS Quantum Solutions Lab.

Developers can use Braket to build quantum algorithms, test them on simulated quantum computers and deploy them on a variety of quantum hardware. Developers can initially test out their wares on quantum annealing from D-Wave, ion trap devices from IonQ, and superconducting chips from Rigetti. AWS said more hardware will be added in the coming months.

“We believe that quantum computing will be a cloud-first technology and that the cloud will be the main way customers access the hardware,” said Charlie Bell, Senior Vice President, Utility Computing Services at AWS.

“With our Amazon Braket service and Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab, we’re making it easier for customers to gain experience using quantum computers and to work with experts from AWS and our partners to figure out how they can benefit from the technology.”

Amazon Solutions Lab will provide a platform for AWS customers to glean insights from Amazon’s quantum computing experts and consultants, to help accelerate the onboarding of quantum pilots.

“In combination with customer access to Amazon Braket, and by integrating with familiar software tools for optimization, quantum simulation, computational material science, and quantum chemistry, the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab will help customers to determine where existing high-performance computing can currently meet their needs, begin to develop their own strategy for quantum computing, build internal expertise, and eventually deploy quantum applications,” Amazon said in a press release.

The AWS Center for Quantum Computing will act in a similar fashion, but with a more high-brow academic focus, by connecting Amazon’s quantum experts with the world’s leading quantum researchers to help “stimulate the innovation necessary to build larger, general purpose machines that will have a greater impact.”

Written by Tue 3 Dec 2019


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