The reports are based on a long-standing fear that the advent of quantum computing could break contemporary encryption practices, undermining the security of distributed ledger technologies.
The Q System One uses IBM’s 20-qubit chip, with the company claiming that the unit is “designed for commercial use.” At launch, Arvind Krishna, director of IBM Research, described the system as “critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science.”
Despite IMB implying that the computer can be physically purchased, the device is only accessible via the cloud due to the extreme delicacy and climate required to operate quantum chips. According to Gizmodo, IBM also “already offers cloud-based access to its [quantum] experience, which includes the 20-qubit chip.”
Helmut Katzgraber, principal researcher at Microsoft Quantum, similarly described IBM’s announcement as a “historical milestone to be able to commercially acquire a digital device, even though the technology,” but anticipates that the system will be of little use beyond research and PR.
“It’s more like a stepping stone than a practical quantum computer,” stated Winfried Hensinger, professor of quantum technologies at the University of Sussex. “Don’t think of this as a quantum computer that can solve all of the problems quantum computing is known for. Think of it as a prototype machine that allows you to test and further develop some of the programming that might be useful in the future,” he added.