IBM says it's ready to go commercial with its IBM Q quantum computer, offered to date for free on a cloud-enabled quantum computing platform. At the heart of the emerging commercial offering, IBM is featuring a prototype 50 quantum bit (qubit) processor along with its 20-qubit processor already offered online. Although a true “universal” quantum computer is years away, the new offering provides a platform for research and development of new computing approaches based on quantum computing.
Quantum computing is considered to pose both promise and threat in offering a solution to advanced problem sets beyond the capability of existing computers — even supercomputers. For example, elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) has gained popularity because it offers a combination of relatively low overhead and high security. Ultimately, the security of ECC and other crypto algorithms relies on the inability of current supercomputers to unravel encrypted messages to find the encryption key (the Elliptic Curve Discrete Logarithm Problem). Quantum computers can execute the kind of compute-intensive algorithms required to break ECC and other security algorithms.
Although universal quantum computers might not appear for another decade, IBM is also providing a software development kit designed to allow development of quantum computing programs without the need for a quantum computer. Available as an open-source repository on Github, The IBM Quantum Information Software Kit (QISKit) is a Python-based library that lets developers create quantum computing programs. Developers can run their programs on simulators or on actual hardware using the IBM Q platform.
Read more about IBM Q on Embedded's sister site, EE Times.