Microsoft may have finally made quantum computing useful

The dream of quantum computing has always been exciting: What if we could build a quantum-level machine that could solve complex calculations faster than a computer limited by classical physics? But despite seeing IBM, Google and others an iterative quantum computing machinethey are it is still not used for any practical purpose. This may change this year Today’s announcement from Microsoft and Quantinuumwho claim to have developed the most error-free quantum computing system ever.

While classical computers and electronics rely on binary bits (which can be on or off) as the basic unit of information, quantum computers work with qubits, which can exist in a superposition of two states at once. The problem with qubits is that they are prone to errors, which is the main reason for modern quantum computers (known as Noisy Medium Scale Quantum). [NISQ] computers) are used for research and practice only.

Microsoft’s solution was to group physical qubits into virtual qubits, allowing it to implement error diagnosis and correction non-destructively and run it on all of Quantinuum’s hardware. The result was an error rate 800 times better than relying solely on physical qubits. Microsoft claims to have been able to run more than 14,000 experiments without any errors.

According to Jason Zander, Microsoft’s EVP of Strategic Missions and Technologies, this breakthrough could finally bring us to “Level 2 Stable” quantum computing, which is reliable enough for practical applications.

“The challenge for the entire quantum ecosystem is to increase the fidelity of qubits and enable fault-tolerant quantum computing so that we can use the quantum machine to unlock solutions to previously intractable problems,” Zander wrote in a blog post today. “In short, we need to move to reliable logical qubits—created by combining multiple physical qubits into logical ones to avoid noise and sustain long (i.e., continuous) computation. … By having high-quality hardware components and advances, the errors designed for this machine management capabilities, we can achieve better results than any individual component could give us.”

Microsoft Quantum ComputingMicrosoft Quantum Computing


In the next few months, researchers will be able to get a taste of Microsoft’s reliable quantum computing through Azure Quantum Elements, where it will be available as a private preview. The goal is to advance further to a level 3 quantum supercomputer that could theoretically solve incredibly complex problems like climate change and exotic drug research. It’s unclear how long it will take to actually get to that point, but for now, at least we’re one step closer to practical quantum computing.

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