Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) just announced the acquisition of supercomputer maker Cray Inc. (NASDAQ: CRAY) for $35.00 per share. What does all of this mean for quantum computing? In the short term, Inside Quantum Technology believes the answer is “very little.” In the longer term, say five years, it’s a “definite maybe.” We note that:
• Before the breakup of the old Hewlett-Packard firm, the company was building a quantum computing system, but this was all but abandoned when the company split. Nonetheless, HP then said that it was keeping its future options in quantum computing open.
• The acquisition of Cray cannot be interpreted as HPE returning to the quantum computing business, but we can’t help noticing that the acquisition has pump primed the rumor mill, with stories running around that somehow HPE and quantum computing are a thing again.
Still, most probably quantum computing is not on HPE’s corporate mind right now . Inside Quantum Technology does not expect to hear much about quantum computing from HPE in the short-to-medium term. And yet, and yet:
• HPE does seem to be well positioned to introduce some kind of quantum product in the not too distant future. One of Cray’s major value propositions is the ability of its products to do huge numbers of calculations and get the results in and out of storage and to users at a speed few others can accomplish. So Cray gives HPE access to exactly those end users, who will buy quantum computers once they are ready for prime time. Also, the Cray brand – although perhaps not such a big deal as it was in the past – will help HPE in this space
• Over time some significant share of the traditional Cray-type computers will gradually be replaced technologically by quantum computers and if and when HPE will be well positioned to enter into that part of the supercomputer market that is – to coin a phrase – becoming “quantumized.”
• HPE wants to be a major player in Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence spaces. To be a leader in these areas, HPE needed to improve both their supercomputing abilities and their capabilities to efficiently store and access data for such applications. Cray’s product line already fits well with HPE’s need and the intersection between quantum computing, machine learning and AI are already a topic of considerable importance
Given all this, and if HPE’s initial forays into quantum computing are moderately successful, Inside Quantum Technology, believes that it would be no surprise to see HPE make another acquisition, this time of a quantum computing startup of some kind. This is because HPE can only get so far with its institutional knowledge of quantum computing at HP Labs. No such acquisition will occur, we believe, until Cray is integrated into the HPE ecosystem and possible quantum computing startup acquisitions have commercial hardware and software products available. Just some of our speculations on where a new player in the quantum computing field may emerge from.
Note that Inside Quantum Technology will soon be publishing a new report on quantum computing: Quantum Computing Strategies: 2019 (https://www.insidequantumtechnology.com/product/quantum-computing-strategies-2019.)