(TechCentral) There are strong reasons for the drive toward quantum computing. First is the perennial demand that computational power grows. As we reach the limits of Moore’s Law, the demand for more processing power has not gone away. If anything, the continuing explosion in data processing will demand that more and more computational power is available.
There is a second, and even more pressing, reason for the flurry of interest in quantum computing: computer processors are reaching the absolute limits of the technology and chip components now are almost at the atomic level, creating hard physical limits to how much further they can be reduced.
The real world applications turn out mostly to be specialist ones: no-one is predicting that quantum computers will replace traditional machines on the desktop. However, they could, in theory, be used to augment them for specific applications.
With databases, for example, the benefits are obvious: database searching requires a linear testing of the state of every field, which is a laborious process. Quantum computing would obviously greatly reduce the amount of time required to search. Another promising application is IT security, another resource-intensive set of computations. Of course, scaling up encryption also means scaling up the ability to crack encryption. Other touted applications are the simulation of quantum physics using actual quantum physics, simulation of complex systems, such as Earth in climate change modelling, and drug discovery: basically, anything that requires enormous amounts of calculations.
NOTE: This article has an excellent summary of the 18 companies it has identified as being active in quantum computing.

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