Unless you have a quantum computer at home, there is a high probability that Google and NASA’s quantum “offspring” would completely outperform your home PC.
Google and NASA announced at a recent conference at the Ames Research Center that their D-Wave quantum computer, which they jointly purchased in 2013, is proven to be 100 million times faster than a conventional home computer. The test, on which Google bases its claims and which is explained in detail on Google’s blog, consists of two computers processing the same optimization problem.
While traditional computers differentiate data bits as zeros and ones, a quantum computer, on the other hand, allows those same bits to exist as zeros and ones simultaneously. This simultaneity allows users to compute many data solutions at once, increasing speed while saving significant amounts of energy.
Quantum computers are designed to handle complex optimization problems, created to find the best solution among all possible available solutions. To demonstrate the power of their mighty D-Wave quantum computer, Google and NASA devised a complex problem that was A/B tested between the D-Wave and a single-core computer, using a quantum simulator algorithm called simulated annealing.
However, not everyone is so impressed with D-Wave’s power. Mathias Troyer, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, says the test results can be viewed in multiple ways: “The result is such that a speed 100 million times greater is achieved, but on an algorithm that is very difficult for classical processors but not for D-Wave,” Troyer stated, explaining that both computers were actually processing an algorithm written for D-Wave, giving it an advantage from the start over a regular PC. He adds that a traditional computer, on a different algorithm, would achieve a result that is 100 times slower than D-Wave, but not 100 million times.
Regardless, Google is directly relying on the development of quantum computers in its future projects to use for improving its search engine services.