Home Computing Microsoft claims quantum computing breakthrough, customers to benefit soon

Microsoft claims quantum computing breakthrough, customers to benefit soon

In a pivotal breakthrough in quantum computing, Microsoft and Quantinuum have said they achieved a new milestone by demonstrating the most reliable logical qubits ever recorded.

Microsoft plans to offer the benefits of these logical qubits in a private preview for Azure Quantum Elements customers in the coming months.

This signals a major step in the quest for practical quantum computing, which has remained a nascent field, lagging behind conventional computing due to the inherent instability of quantum bits or qubits.

These qubits require significant redundancy to function, with current quantum computers needing up to tens of thousands to form a single, stable, and usable logical qubit.

To benefit research and development

On its blog, Microsoft said that a new qubit-virtualization system designed to correct errors in quantum computing has completed over 14,000 error-free experiments when applied to Quantinuum’s ion-trap hardware.

This innovation enhances quantum computation by maintaining the integrity of logical qubits during error diagnostics and correction. The advancement marks a transition beyond the noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) era, ushering in Level 2 Resilient quantum computing capabilities.

“This is a crucial milestone on our path to building a hybrid supercomputing system that can transform research and innovation across many industries,” Microsoft said. “It is made possible by the collective advancement of quantum hardware, qubit virtualization and correction, and hybrid applications that take advantage of the best of AI, supercomputing, and quantum capabilities.

“With a hybrid supercomputer powered by 100 reliable logical qubits, organizations would start to see scientific advantage, while scaling closer to 1,000 reliable logical qubits would unlock commercial advantage.”

Analysts suggest this could help Microsoft bolster its market positioning by attracting more investment and forging partnerships, potentially pressuring competitors to showcase their own advancements to stay relevant.

“The development of Microsoft’s quantum computing ecosystem may draw developers and researchers, posing a challenge to competitors needing to offer comparable alternatives,” said Manish Rawat, analyst at TechInsights. “Furthermore, Microsoft’s breakthrough could catalyze partnerships and alliances in the quantum computing space while influencing the establishment of industry standards and accruing valuable intellectual property.”

Quantum race heating up

Microsoft’s latest development in this field comes amid Quantum Computing-related announcements from others. Amazon has said it’s integrating a hybrid quantum-classical algorithm to enhance machine learning, incorporating hyperparameter optimization on its Amazon Braket platform – a dedicated AWS service for quantum computing experiments.

In February, Canadian startup Nord Quantique said it had achieved a world first by demonstrating the enhancement of qubit coherence lifetimes at the single-qubit level through quantum error correction, using a hardware-efficient methodology.

In January, another startup, QuEra Computing, outlined an ambitious plan for developing error-corrected quantum computers. Their strategy sets a timeline starting in 2024, aiming to ultimately deliver a quantum system equipped with 100 logical, error-corrected qubits.

In the same month, the Paris and Boston-based startup Alice & Bob announced the development of a new quantum error correction architecture. Its new method, utilizing low-density parity-check codes on cat qubits, aims to decrease the hardware demands for building effective quantum computers.

In March, Google introduced the XPRIZE Quantum Applications, a $5 million global contest that spans three years. It calls for the innovative use of quantum computing to tackle real-world problems.

While all this sounds promising, a recent State of Quantum report by The Quantum Insider suggests a slowdown in investments in quantum computing.

From its historic peaks in 2021 and 2022, funding for quantum technology declined by about 50% (to about $1.25 billion) in 2023, the report said. This downturn is attributed to the venture capital market turning its attention to the rapid expansion of generative AI technologies.



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