At a time when Moore’s Law on chip power seems to be reaching its limits, researchers are looking into a new computer architecture capable of delivering a much higher level of performance. Hence the idea of the quantum computer which, unlike the conventional bit-based architecture, offers storage based on qubits. In practice, while a bit contains just a 0 or a 1, a qubit can store more complex information since it deals with a 0 and a 1 that are superposed. In addition, qubits use the quantum properties of matter to represent both the state of 0 and 1, whereas conventional bits can only operate with one unit of information at a time, so either the state of 0 or the state of 1. In other words (and without going into technological details), qubits are able to take on two configurations simultaneously, which gives them extreme speed.
By doing so, much more complex problems can be dealt with much more quickly. Google, for example, recently announced it succeeded in executing an extremely complex operation, which would have required more than 10.000 years for a conventional supercomputer, in just over 3 minutes using its quantum computer Sycamore. That information was quickly ‘put into perspective’ by Google’s sworn enemy, IBM, which claims to have discovered a classic algorithm capable of performing a similar operation on an equally classic computer in ‘only’ two and a half days.
Currently, Google, IBM and Microsoft – and most probably China – are working on quantum computers. But they struggle to pass the 53 qubits mark, as they face qubit stability problems in their quantum state, which requires very specific conditions: the atoms must be simple, cold (-270 °C) and isolated from the outside world (absolute vacuum). On top of that, the applications developed for today’s computers need to be completely rewritten for quantum computers.
Still, there are some unsuspected prospects. In fields as diverse and varied as health care (development of new drugs, big data processing), transportation (autonomous cars), energy management (optimization of resources, simulation of energy savings), security (protection against cyberattacks), simulation (fluid dynamics in construction), aeronautics (aircraft construction), financial services (risk optimization and fraud detection) and production (supply chain management), quantum computing’s processing capacity could find its true calling. In short, all sectors whose success depends on computing power and the ability to process large amounts of data could benefit from quantum computing.
The challenge is to highlight the areas where the use of quantum computing will lead to better results than conventional systems. Initially, business managers will have to learn about the potential of this new technology, without being overwhelmed by it. Why not select an activity where quantum computing is clearly the right answer and launch a pilot project? Easy access to this technology is now possible thanks to the cloud. This is particularly the case with Amazon Braket, which provides an environment for designing, testing and executing quantum algorithms.
Microsoft offers Azure Quantum, consisting of preconfigured building blocks and algorithms, as well as quantum simulators and a real quantum computer. A pioneer of quantum computing technology, IBM, implemented its IBM Q Experience with a Qiskit framework and a graphical and user-friendly Circuit Composer interface. Google provides the opportunity to experiment with quantum computing through Google Playground, including an Integrated Development Environment and a scripting language to develop and experiment with quantum algorithms.
Beyond the infrastructure, a project related to quantum computing also needs an ecosystem, associating partners capable of mastering both the client’s business and IT strategy, making sure the technology is implemented for the benefit of innovation and digital transformation. As a company specializing in the architecture and transformation of information systems, Aprico Consultants is committed to the digital transformation of its clients by providing them with the flexibility, performance and competitiveness they need to strengthen their position in the market. This transformation involves the implementation of innovative processes as well as the development of cutting-edge products, inspired by a constant search for innovation. Aprico Consultants collaborates with its clients to translate their strategies, objectives and constraints into pragmatic innovation programs that deliver real added value and a tangible return on investment.
By 2024, analysts estimate that the quantum applications market will be worth 2 to 5 billion dollars. They also warn the technology’s major breakthrough is expected fairly soon. As a result, companies that invest in quantum computing give their competitors a really hard time to catch up. Analysts also consider that the value creation generated by quantum computing is expected to reach 35 to 75 billion dollars per year. “The quantum computing revolution is only a matter of time. Companies that don’t invest are at risk. They will miss out on powerful growth drivers, or even disappear.”
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