Honeywell Says It Has Built The World’s Most Powerful Quantum Computer
Honeywell Says It Has Built The World’s Most Powerful Quantum Computer. In the race to the future of quantum computing, Honeywell has just secured a fresh lead.
The North Carolina-based conglomerate announced Thursday that it has produced the world’s fastest quantum computer, at least twice as powerful as the existing computers operated by IBM and Google.
The machine, located in a 1,500-square-foot high-security storage facility in Boulder, Colorado, consists of a stainless steel chamber about the size of basketball that is cooled by liquid helium at a temperature just above absolute zero, the point at which atoms stop vibrating. Within that chamber, individual atoms floating above a computer chip are targeted with lasers to perform calculations. Honeywell Says It Has Built The World’s Most Powerful Quantum Computer.
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While people have studied the potential of quantum computing for decades, that is, building machines with the ability to complete calculations beyond the limits of classic computers and supercomputers, the sector has until recently been limited to the intrigue of research groups at tech companies such as IBM and Google.
But in the past year, the race between those companies to claim supremacy — and provide a commercial use — in the quantum race has become heated. Honeywell’s machine has achieved a Quantum Volume of 64, a metric devised by IBM that measures the capability of the machine and error rates, but is also difficult to decipher (and as quantum computing expert Scott Aaronson wrote in March, is potentially possible to game). By comparison, IBM announced in January that it had achieved a Quantum Volume of 32 with its newest machine, Raleigh. Honeywell Says It Has Built The World’s Most Powerful Quantum Computer.
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Google has also spent significant resources on developing its quantum capabilities and In October said it had developed a machine that completed a calculation that would have taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to process in just 200 seconds. (IBM disputed Google’s claim, saying the calculation would have taken only 2.5 days to complete.)
Honeywell has been working toward this goal for the past decade when it began developing the technology to produce cryogenics and laser tools. In the past five years, the company assembled a team of more than 100 technologists entirely dedicated to building the machine, and in March, Honeywell announced it would be within three months — a goal it was able to meet even as the Covid-19 turned its workforce upside down and forced some employees to work remotely. “We had to completely redesign how we work in the facilities, had to limit who was coming on the site, and put in place physical barriers,” says Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions. “All of that happened at the same time we were planning on being on this race.”
The advancement also means that Honeywell is opening its computer to companies looking to execute their own unimaginably large calculations — a service that can cost about $10,000 an hour, says Uttley. While it won’t disclose how many customers it has, Honeywell did say that it has a contract with JPMorgan Chase, which has its own quantum experts who will use its machine to execute gargantuan tasks, such as building fraud detection models. For those companies without in-house quantum experts, queries can be made through intermediary quantum firms, Zapata Computing and Cambridge Quantum Computing. Honeywell Says It Has Built The World’s Most Powerful Quantum Computer.
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With greater access to the technology, Uttley says, quantum computers are nearing the point where they have graduated from an item of fascination to being used to solve problems like climate change and pharmaceutical development. Going forward, Uttley says Honeywell plans to increase the Quantum Volume of its machine by a factor of 10 every year for the next five years, reaching a figure of 640,000 — a capability far beyond that imagined ever before.