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Who’s developing quantum computers?

News Analysis
May 23, 20182 mins
CPUs and ProcessorsData Center

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There are two main camps in the quantum computing development, says Ashish Nadkarni, Program Vice President of Computing Platforms, Worldwide Infrastructure at IDC. In the first camp are entrenched players from the world of classical computing. And in the second are quantum computing startups.

“It’s a highly fragmented landscape,” Nadkarni says. “Each company has its own approach to building a universal quantum computer and delivering it as a service.”

Classic-computing vendors pioneer quantum computing

Along with IBM, other classical computing companies staking a claim in the emerging field of quantum computing include:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google recently said it’s “cautiously optimistic” that its new Bristlecone quantum processor, with 72 qubits, can achieve “quantum supremacy.” Quantum supremacy, or quantum advantage as some call it, will happen when a quantum computer can solve a problem that a classical supercomputer can’t.

Intel announced its 49-qubit quantum test chip named Tangle Lake at CES 2018. The company said Tangle Lake “represents progress toward Intel’s goal of developing a complete-quantum computing system.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that quantum computing, along with AI and augmented reality, are the three technologies most important to its future. Among Microsoft’s quantum-computing efforts, the company is developing a quantum computer that will be a part of its Azure cloud within five years. And it has released a free preview version of its Quantum Development Kit, for those who want to start writing applications for quantum computers.

Quantum computing startups

Rigetti Computing, founded in 2013, is a “full-stack quantum-computing company,” meaning that it builds hardware and software to store and process quantum information. The company also offers a quantum-computing platform called Forest.

D-Wave Systems, Inc. became the world’s first company to actually sell quantum computers in 2011. The cost at the time: $10 million. Founded in 1999, the Canadian company is among the oldest quantum-computing startups.

Zapata Computing, among the newest quantum computing startups, was spun out of Harvard University and formally launched in May 2018. The company is focused on developing quantum computing algorithms and software that will support hardware from Rigetti, IBM and others. Alán Aspuru-Guzik, a noted quantum computer algorithm developer and Harvard University professor, is a co-founder.

It’s worth noting that IBM is partnering with a variety of quantum computing startups, including Zapata Computing and 1Qbit.

Quantum Computing Report offers a deeper dive into quantum computing startups.


James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his blog. He writes's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.

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