(FierceElectronics) The Inside Quantum Technology Conference last week featured virtual panel of experts after virtual panel of experts laying out reasons why quantum computing is no longer a physicist’s pipe dream, and instead is real and here and brimming with potential to fuel a variety of projects and applications across many industries.
Although, “real and here” for most of us means in the cloud. That’s where many quantum computers, like IBM Quantum, exist today. Users, mostly researchers, students and other academic types, register to use cloud-based quantum computing resources. That’s why much of the market value of quantum computing in the next few years will be derived from cloud access to quantum computing resources and not from computing hardware and software components, as Lawrence Gasman, conference founder and president of IQT Research said during the event.
That begs two questions: Will cloud-based quantum computing ever give way to on-premises quantum computing, and if that’s possible, will we ever see such a thing as a quantum PC?
Companies, let alone individuals, that don’t have the deep pockets and engineering battalions of a Google, IBM or Amazon Web Services, will be hard-pressed to develop or afford their own quantum computers anytime soon. However, the notion of a quantum PC also is becoming more realistic.
Gasman said the history of computing, in which room-sized mainframes evolved to mini-computers, which evolved to PCs, suggests what’s possible. The enabling of quantum technology in smaller form factors, via smaller, less costly, increasingly higher-performance quantum processors and other materials, could lead the way to quantum PCs.
Gasman highlighted the efforts of Chinese company SpinQ, which already boasts a $50,000 quantum computer that weighs in at 55 kilograms (about 121.5 lbs) and is available in China, Taiwan and Canada. “I wouldn’t like to carry 55 kilograms around,” Gasman said. SpinQ already has a much smaller, less pricey model in the works to be made available around the end of this year. It will cost less than $5,000 and be more portable.
Noting the industry’s ability to quickly advance on technology roadmaps could have some surprises in store. “Until a year ago, it was still possible to deny the practicality of quantum computing,” Gasman said. “Disruptive technology points the way to generally accessible technology. What seems impossible today may not seem impossible next time we have this conference.”