21 Jun 2022

Guest Blog from D-Wave: Quantum Computing - The Future is Hybrid, It’s Here Now & Available through the Cloud!

Author: Murray Thom, Vice President of Product Management at D-Wave

Quantum computing is getting a lot of attention, and the headlines are compelling. But dig deeper, and there still is a lack of understanding around quantum computing and how it can provide benefits. Like cloud computing ten years ago, we are at the very beginning, and like cloud computing, there isn’t just one technology involved, it’s a combination of technologies working together for the greatest impact.  

As Arthur Herman, Director of the Quantum Alliance Initiative stated, “The quantum revolution is here, thanks to the development of hybrid systems that integrate the advantages of both quantum computing in solving highly complex problems, and classical computing with its flexibility and accessibility.”

Quantum and classical computing technologies have complementary strengths that benefit applications which is why quantum applications will always be hybrid. Consider that while jet airplanes transformed the way we travel long distances, we still need vehicles that take us to our front door. Likewise, we will still need our laptops and familiar programming languages in the era of quantum applications.

As powerful as today’s classical computing technologies may be, there is a need for new resources — quantum resources — to meet the demands of entrepreneurs and governments. Some innovations will be revolutionary, but many will be evolutionary. Regardless of near-term or longer-term, mind-bending or pragmatic, quantum-hybrid solvers will always play a role.

What is a quantum-hybrid application?

Quantum-hybrid applications provide the benefit of both classical and quantum resources to solve problems. A hybrid approach allows developers to exploit the powers of both, today, and reap the benefits of the ongoing acceleration in quantum-computer development tomorrow. As the size of the processors grow, quantum computers promise to provide unrivaled performance at some types of tasks, such as solving certain hard optimization problems.

D-Wave is a leader in the development and delivery of quantum computing systems and is the only company building both annealing and gate-model quantum computers. We are also a full stack provider, which means our technology, products and services include hardware, software, cloud platform, professional services, and more.

D-Wave has several quantum-hybrid solvers and our latest enhancement of the CQM solver, released in May 2022, for the first time allows users to leverage the power of quantum computation to run constrained quadratic optimization problems with continuous and discreet variables. Rami Musa, director of supply chain modeling and analytics at Johnson & Johnson said that “By adding support for continuous variables, D-Wave is expanding the utility of its quantum hybrid solver, and the early results we’ve seen are impressive. We believe our work with D-Wave is helping our business stay ahead of the curve and plays an important role in our quantum strategy.”

From 3-D bin packing and other logistics to drug trials and energy use cases, there are a variety of optimization problems that can be solved on today’s quantum systems using quantum-hybrid solvers.

Cloud access enables quantum-hybrid applications

Cloud access to quantum computing systems has only been within the past few years, but today many quantum computers have some type of cloud access, either via company-owned platforms, like D-Wave’s LeapTM quantum cloud service, or through broader cloud services offering online access to a variety of quantum systems, such as AWS Braket.

The future of quantum commercialization is via cloud access as it provides the widest access possible allowing for the most diverse set of innovation.

Governments have been discussing how to integrate high performance computing (HPC) with quantum. A recent report from Atos and IQM found that of the 110 HPC centres worldwide surveyed, 76 percent of those plan on using quantum computing by 2023. Demand for quantum computing was found to be the number one technology requirement in Europe and is in the top three technologies worldwide for the top 500 HPC data centres. There is also a forecast for interoperability between HPC supercomputing with quantum included within the European Quantum Computing & Simulation infrastructure (EuroQCS). Cloud accessible HPC + quantum centres continue to be a global focus.

While quantum computing is still an emerging field, through the connectivity to cloud and with quantum-hybrid applications, there are expanded sets of applications which can be built utilizing today’s technology. Practical quantum computing includes access to innovative hybrid solvers, unlocking the powerful combination of quantum and classical computation. This can provide faster, more effective solutions than what’s possible with classical computers alone, which in turn fuels innovation and competitive advantage. The future is now, via the cloud, and its quantum-hybrid.

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