IBM's Quantum Computing Is About to Get Much More Powerful

Thanks to a brand new processor and a modular quantum system

IBM is pushing quantum computing even further with a new 433 qubit processor, along with plans for what it calls "the next wave in quantum computing."

Quantum computing, in the most basic terms, is a way to process immense amounts of data very, very fast. It's not something we'll see in our home computers anytime soon, but it's being utilized by major companies to plot out a number of improvements for travel, manufacturing, and so on. But the technology has been making strides over the past several years, and IBM has revealed that it's taken (or will be taking) a couple more big steps.

IBM Quantum Osprey


The newly-revealed IBM Osprey processor claims to have almost 3.5x the power of 2021's IBM Eagle processor, managing 433 quantum bits (qubits) over the older model's 127. According to IBM, "the number of classical bits that would be necessary to represent a state on the IBM Osprey processor far exceeds the total number of atoms in the known universe." In other words, this single processor can process an exponentially large amount of data compared to a consumer-level system.

Dario Gil, Jay Gambetta and Jerry Chow holding the new 433 qubit 'IBM Osprey' processor


Then there's the IBM Quantum System Two, a quantum system designed to manage over 4,000 qubits at a time. Something that in itself is quite powerful, but the real purpose behind it is its modularity. The IBM Quantum System Two can swap hardware around and even link up with multiples of itself to process more than 16,000 qubits. It's the kind of processing power that could lead to immense strides in virus sequencing, air traffic management, supply chain efficiency, and more.

Don't expect to order an IBM Osprey processor for your home computer, though. If you use IBM Q, you might be able to see the benefits, but it's not something you can walk into a store and buy. Similarly, the IBM Quantum System Two update (which also isn't available at the consumer level) has no release date but is expected to go live by the end of 2023.

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