Did Google’s quantum computer just get the biggest processor upgrade in history?

A D-Wave 2 unit. Image: extremetech.com
Google will be getting a major upgrade to its D-Wave brand quantum computer, which has been the source of controversy over the past several years. The company has kept a tight wraps on just what it hopes to accomplish with quantum technology, and whether it has started to accomplish it. Now we know that the computer itself will be getting significantly more powerful, and that D-Wave will maintain it with further upgrades for another seven years. If you believe D-Wave’s take on the technology, this newest version is exponentially more powerful than the last.

By Graham Templeton|ExtremeTech

In a quantum computer of the type D-Wave manufactures, the computational unit is called a quantum bit, or qubit. Each qubit doesn’t just add to the computational power, but expands the “search space” by a factor of two. This is the number of possibilities the computer can consider at once, and for Google’s current D-Wave Two, this figure came in at 512, allowing 2512 possibilities. This upgrade, to 1,000 qubits, thus allows a search of 21000 possibilities.

That number is higher than the total number of particles in the universe.

Of course, that’s only if you believe D-Wave’s advertising copy. The company’s tech has been criticized in the past for allegedly not employing truly quantum phenomena, and for being slower than it ought to be in speed tests. D-Wave has never said that their computer can outperform a normal processor at all operations, but there is some evidence that it can be beat even at its own game.


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