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Quantum computing, a field that has long been dominated by tech giants like Google and IBM, is witnessing a paradigm shift. A fresh wave of innovation is sweeping across the quantum landscape, led by ambitious startups and researchers. They are moving away from the race for more quantum bits (qubits), the fundamental units of quantum information, and focusing on practical hardware and long-term goals.
The year 2023 marks a significant milestone in this journey. IBM, a long-time player in the field, is expected to debut its Heron processor. While it may seem like a step back with just 133 qubits compared to its previous 433-qubit Osprey processor, the Heron’s qubits are of the highest quality. More importantly, each Heron chip can connect directly to other Heron processors. This shift towards “modular” quantum computers is expected to significantly scale up quantum computing capabilities.
The implications of these advancements are profound. Quantum computers could potentially break currently used encryption algorithms, posing a threat to cybersecurity. On the flip side, they could also enable breakthroughs in fields ranging from pharmacology to materials science.
As for when we can expect usable quantum computers, some experts suggest that thanks to recent breakthroughs and high levels of funding, we may see general-purpose quantum computers earlier than anticipated. However, it’s important to remember that quantum computing is still a nascent field with many technical challenges to overcome.
So, while the road to usable quantum computers may be long and winding, the journey has certainly begun. The progress made in 2023 signals a shift from theoretical research to practical applications, bringing us one step closer to the dawn of the quantum era.