D-Wave 1152 qubit commercial quantum computer
Commercial quantum computerD-Wave

Quantum computing firm D-Wave Systems has announced that it will be commercially releasing a 1,152 qubit processor for use in quantum computers in March 2015.

The processor will be the most-powerful quantum annealing system to be made commercially available and represents a significant step forward in what some have touted as the next technological revolution.

"D-Wave is making fantastic progress in fabricating ever-larger processors," Colin Williams, director of business development and strategic partnerships at D-Wave, told Nextbigfuture. "In fact, we will be releasing our new 1,152-qubit 'Washington' processor in March of this year.

"However, size, (i.e. qubit count) is not the only aspect of the processor that has been improved. We have also lowered the noise and stretched the energy scale of the qubits (making them inherently more quantum mechanical)."

What is quantum computing?

Quantum computers replace traditional bits that are used in digital communications with quantum bits, or qubits. Potential applications can be found in a variety of fields, from medicine to space travel.

Qubits exist in a state of superposition, meaning they can be in both states at once, rather than restricted to either binary state as traditional bits function.

Qubit

D-Wave produced the world's first commercially available quantum computer in 2011, which used a 128-qubit system. Two years later a 512-qubit system called the D-Wave Two was bought by NASA and Google as part of a collaboration aimed at researching machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The 1,152-qubit system will use a chip with 2,048 physical qubits, however 896 qubits will not be active. The cost has yet to be disclosed by the firm, however previous systems have cost around $10m (£6.5m).

The Canada-based firm recently raised C$29m (£15m) from an anonymous "large institutional investor" in order to expand the development of quantum hardware and software.

Previous investors in D-Wave have included Goldman Sachs, BDC Capital and Bezos Expeditions, and some analysts believe that the latest investment came from one of the previous backers.

"The investment is a testament to the progress D-Wave continues to make as the leader in quantum computing systems," said D-Wave CEO Vern Brownwell. "The funding we received in 2014 will advance our quantum hardware and software development, as well as our work on leading edge applications of our systems.

"By making quantum computing available to more organisations, we're driving our goal of finding solutions to the most complex optimisation and machine learning applications in national defence, computing, research and finance."