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Honeywell teases “world’s most powerful quantum computer”

Written by Wed 4 Mar 2020

Quantum computing’s “best-kept secret” tells IBM and Google to step aside

Operational technology multinational Honeywell has claimed it has cracked a quantum computing conundrum that will pave the way for the “world’s most powerful” quantum system.

Honeywell added that it expected to release the record-breaking system within the next three months.

Quantum computers leverage qubits instead of bits to solve problems that ordinary computers would take millions or even billions of years to solve and are roundly expected to accelerate applications such as drug development, weather forecasts and materials design.

Honeywell said its breakthrough will enable it to produce a quantum system with a quantum volume (QV) of 64, twice as much as the next most powerful system.

Quantum volume indicates the relative complexity of a computational problem that can be solved by a quantum computer, as it is a metric that accounts for both decoherence times and the number of qubits in a system.

If Honeywell’s claims are accurate, it would mean the company will leapfrog quantum frontrunners IBM and Google in the fiercely contested quantum race. IBM’s own machines register a quantum volume of 32. Last month, Intel announced a chip that could control up to 128 qubits in a single system but did not allude to its decoherence capabilities.

Honeywell, which posted revenues of over $36 billion last year, said its history of developing complex industrial systems enabled it to develop an “ion trap” that achieves decoherence times that exceed its closest quantum competitors. Around 100 scientists, engineers and developers work on its quantum project, a number of which published their latest quantum wizardly in a scientific paper posted on Honeywell’s website.

Honeywell was one of the largest computing companies in the 1960s and was even a competitor of IBM during that period, but its IT division was rested in the early 1990s. The company’s main focus is now operational technology for sectors like aerospace, manufacturing, construction, and oil and gas — areas where research could be dramatically accelerated by quantum computing power.

“Quantum computing will enable us to tackle complex scientific and business challenges, driving step-change improvements in computational power, operating costs and speed,” said Darius Adamczyk, Honeywell chairman and chief executive officer.

“Materials companies will explore new molecular structures. Transportation companies will optimize logistics. Financial institutions will need faster and more precise software applications. Pharmaceutical companies will accelerate the discovery of new drugs. Honeywell is striving to influence how quantum computing evolves and to create opportunities for our customers to benefit from this powerful new technology.”

Honeywell also announced two collaborations to enhance its efforts in the area. The first will see the company team up with global finance firm JPMorgan Chase to develop quantum algorithms using Honeywell’s system.

In addition, Honeywell’s venture capital arm is investing in leading quantum software and algorithm providers Cambridge Quantum Computing and Zapata Computing to explore practical applications for its customers.

Written by Wed 4 Mar 2020


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