Once a pioneer, quantum computer developer D-Wave to start making same types of machines as its competitors
D-Wave Systems Inc. has become a leader in the race to develop the world’s most powerful processor by taking a different approach from competing developers of technologies called quantum computers. This allowed D-Wave to get to market faster, but limited the problems its machines could solve.
Today, after a rough patch, the pioneering company in Burnaby, British Columbia, says it will follow the lead of IBM, Google and others and develop a versatile quantum computer using a “blueprint” design. de porte ”similar to those pursued by its rivals. However, the company said it would continue to advance its own more specialized approach, dubbed “quantum annealing.” It was this technology that allowed the company to claim that it brought the first quantum computer to market years ago.
“We have taken what we have learned and built over the past 20 years and developed a roadmap for the quantum platform that will enhance the benefits of quantum annealing computing… while accelerating our ability to expand to other classes of problems, ”Alan, CEO Baratz said in a statement.
He said Fortune D-Wave was still “absolutely committed” to the development of annealing systems. “But there are important questions that annealing cannot solve” in areas such as the equations of physics and chemistry. “So if we could also bring a door model system, we would be the only company in the world” with the two.
The move surprised the industry, said Daniel Lidar, director of the Center for Quantum Information Science & Technology at the University of Southern California, in an interview. “I don’t think it’s admitting defeat,” Dr. Lidar said of the company’s decision to move to gate-type computer development. “What I think they’re doing is smart. Their strategy was to scale up as quickly as possible with an emphasis on annealing… Now, I expect that with the appropriate modifications, they will harness this know-how and implement it in grid devices. It’s a natural next step.
D-Wave was co-founded in 1999 by Geordie Rose shortly after receiving his doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Scientists have theorized for years that quantum processors can solve much more complex problems than the most powerful computers in the world. But they thought it would take decades for them to develop. IBM was already trying.
In 2004, Mr. Rose broke with conventional thinking, concluding that the approach most were pursuing would be impossible to construct effectively. Instead, he embraced the emerging theories and set about making an annealing device.
Conventional computer systems are made up of bits, or tiny circuits on a microchip that are either open or closed – representing ones and zeros in conventional software.
In a gate model quantum computer, bits are replaced by entities called qubits. Each qubit contains a value that can simultaneously behave as if it were a one and a zero due to the strange properties of matter on a small scale. If many such qubits are tied together – a huge technical challenge – they can perform calculations of a kind that would immobilize a conventional computer for trillions of years. A model-gate machine that could operate on a practical scale would have many potential applications.
In contrast, D-Wave’s annealing system uses qubits that start with a similar mixed identity and then quickly settle into one pattern or another. D-Wave’s proposal was that it could use this transition to solve a more limited class of “optimization” problems – problems that call for identifying the best solution among a large number of possibilities.
To build such a machine, D-Wave had to generate temperatures cooler than those of deep space inside the machine, to slow down the atoms inside D-Wave’s processors and exploit their quantum effects. . Mr. Rose called it “the most difficult engineering project that has ever been attempted in human history.”
Mr. Rose, who left the company in 2014, has been greeted with skepticism by many in the scientific community. But D-Wave has built progressively better and faster versions of its machine, raising $ 300 million from the venture capital arm of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. She sold models to Google, Lockheed Martin, NASA, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States.
D-Wave CEO Vern Brownell hired Mr. Baratz in 2017 to build software systems that work with his hardware. Mr. Baratz had led Sun Microsystems Inc.’s efforts in the 1990s to transform Java from a nascent programming language into the Internet’s premier software writing program.
Mr. Baratz led a change in strategy for D-Wave, which gained momentum after replacing Mr. Brownell as CEO in early 2020. D-Wave focused on providing access in switched to its technology and stopped selling its expensive, hangar-sized machines. Customers online included Volkswagen and biotech startups who have used D-Wave to solve complex problems optimization issues such as improving traffic flow and identifying proteins that could become drugs.
D-Wave also finalized a costly $ 40 million refinance last year that wiped out most of the value of some longtime investors and reduced its valuation to less than $ 170 million from $ 450 million. Last March, the Government of Canada committed $ 40 million to support D-Wave’s research and development costs.
The company still has to spend years and tens of millions more to develop not only its annealing technology but now the grate machines. D-Wave is also facing a new wave of competitors, including Xanadu Quantum Technologies Inc. of Toronto, who are using different and less expensive approaches to develop quantum computers.
With a file from Ivan Semeniuk