D-Wave still planning gate model system amid CEO’s critical comments
D-Wave confirmed to IQT News via email that it is still planning to build a gate model quantum computer, an exchange which came days after D-Wave CEO Alan Baratz was broadly critical of gate model systems during the company’s recent first quarter earnings call.
During that call, in response to a question, Baratz touted the advantage of annealing quantum systems over emerging gate model systems, stating that D-Wave’s annealing approach can help customers with challenging computational tasks today. Meanwhile, he said of gate model systems, according to the Seeking Alpha earnings call transcript, “There’s no evidence at all that a gate model system, which is what everybody else in the industry is pursuing, will ever be able to deliver commercial value without error correction. There’s just no evidence of that despite what people working in that space would like you to believe. And error correction is very difficult, very challenging technology. [We’re] many years away and there’s a heavy R&D lift that’s going to be associated to get there.”
Despite these comments, a D-Wave media representative confirmed that D-Wave still has plans for its own gate model system, originally announced in 2021, on its roadmap. The company has not announced any further specifics about when it expects to make that system available for users.
In recent months, D-Wave has touted the progress that many customers and partners, such as Mastercard, SLB, Pattison Food Group, and others, have made using its annealing quantum computing system.
As one of the recent crop of publicly-traded quantum companies, D-Wave is under pressure to produce revenue and rebound from a reported cash crunch that in the last year has caused it to seek additional funds first from an Equity Line of Credit (ELOC), and later, when it no longer met the minimum stock price requirement for accessing the ELOC, from a $50 million four-year, secured term loan agreement. D-Wave already has accessed more than $15 million via that loan, and there are second and third advances of $15 million and $20 million expected “subject to certain terms and conditions,” the company has noted. As the company awaits those advances, it recently posted first quarter revenue that was lower than the same period last year and lower than the fourth quarter of 2022, though D-Wave touted growth in bookings.
So it may come as no surprise that Baratz, more than once during the earnings call, stressed the importance of convincing customer prospects that quantum computing value can be realized today through its annealing system–and that they do not need to wait for gate model systems to reach their potential. While a gate model system may still be in the company’s long-term plan, its short-term livelihood depends very much on the immediate viability of quantum annealing.
Image caption: D-Wave CEO Dr. Alan Baratz, right, talks to Rod Lessard, computational software engineer at SLB, left, about using D-Wave quantum annealing technology to optimize large oilfield projects. The conversation occurred at a D-Wave event in January 2023.
Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.