ExxonMobil, IBM partner on quantum computing

Donna Miller
January 10, 2019

"The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing", Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research said in a statement. "We'll see quantum computing's first impact in the areas of chemistry and science".

What makes the Q System One the most advanced cloud-based quantum computing programs is a long list of custom components that include cryogenic engineering (to keep the computing systems from overheating), quantum firmware (for upgrades and downtime), classical computation for secure cloud access and more. The company also earned patents for blockchain technology as well as for quantum computing uses.

IBM says that the "world first" 20-qubit system is created to assist commercial and scientific organisations harness the power of quantum computing, highlighting examples such as financial data modelling or optimising global logistics operations. On that note, IBM has announced the first step where it is planning to open first IBM Q Quantum Computation Center for commercial clients in Poughkeepsie, New York, later this year.

More than anything, though, IBM seems to be proud of the design of the Q systems.

Previously, quantum computers have only been confined to research labs - Microsoft, Google, IBM, and lots of others have been racing to bring a viable quantum computer to market.

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ExxonMobil will become the first energy company to join the IBM Q Network. "Future applications of quantum computing may include finding new ways to model financial data and isolating key global risk factors to make better investments, or finding the optimal path across global systems for ultra-efficient logistics and optimizing fleet operations for deliveries".

The Q System One communicates with the outside world through classical computing equipment that runs alongside the qubits.

CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, will work with IBM to explore how quantum computing may be used to advance scientific understanding of the universe. Like, for example, that the Q System One uses a fourth-generation 20-qubit processor, and that a "50-qubit device will be available to the IBM Q Network later this year".

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will use quantum computers along with high-performance supercomputers to benchmark new methods for studying strongly correlated dynamics in quantum materials, chemistry, and nuclear physics.

IBM has banked on quantum as one of its core future technologies, first opening up client access through the cloud past year. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), IBM took things even further, when it unveiled IBM Q System One - "the world's first integrated universal approximate quantum computing system".

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