BERLIN – IBM on Tuesday unveiled one of Europe’s most powerful quantum computers in Germany, bolstering the country’s efforts to stay in the race for what is seen as a key technology of the future.
Quantum computers use subatomic particles to bypass the limitations of traditional physics and perform calculations at much faster speeds than even the fastest existing supercomputers. While this has long been seen as the preserve of obscure research, companies increasingly hope to harness quantum computers to develop new materials, drugs, or artificial intelligence applications.
IBM CEO and President Arvind Krishna said: âI am very pleased with the launch of IBM Quantum System One in Germany, the most powerful quantum computer in Europe. It is a turning point from which the German economy, industry and society will benefit greatly. Quantum computers promise to solve entirely new categories of problems that are today beyond the reach of the most powerful conventional computers. “
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The new IBM system is the company’s first quantum computer outside of the United States, where it already has more than 30 such computers. It is located in a facility in Ehningen operated by the German research organization Fraunhofer Society.
This is the first step towards commercial scale of IBM’s quantum computing technology, according to IBM. In July, a quantum computer in Japan will join its cousin Fraunhofer, and in the not too distant future, one will also be installed at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, the company added.
âQuantum computing opens up new possibilities for industry and society,â said Hannah Venzl, coordinator of the Fraunhofer Competence Network Quantum Computing, in a statement. âMedicines and vaccines could be developed faster, climate models improved, logistics and transport systems optimized, or new materials better simulated. For all of this to happen, to actively shape the rapid development of quantum computing, we need to develop expertise in Europe. “
Speaking via video link at the official launch, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said quantum computing will play a key role in the country’s efforts to retain “technological and digital sovereignty” while also providing an engine for economic growth. .
âOf course, we are not alone in the world with such ideas,â she said. âThe United States and China in particular are investing large sums.
Merkel said her government recently decided to increase its funding for quantum computing research by 2 billion euros ($ 2.4 billion) over the next five years.
“The rest of the world doesn’t sleep in this area,” said the 66-year-old, who was a quantum chemist in East Germany before entering politics.
IBM said the system in Ehningen can handle 27 quantum bits, or qubits, simultaneously. But Martin Jetter, the company’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said IBM aims to have a stable quantum computer capable of handling more than 1,000 qubits by 2023.
NC State is one of the US universities working with IBM on quantum research efforts.
IBM operates one of its largest corporate campuses at RTP and owns Red Hat, based in Raleigh.