CES 2019: IBM launched its first commercial quantum computer

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IBM has just announced its first commercial quantum computer for use outside the laboratory. The 20 System qubits combines in one package the quantum and classical computing pieces needed to use such a machine for research and business applications.

That package, the IBM Q system, is still huge, of course, but it includes everything a company would need to get started with its quantum computing experiments, including all the machinery needed to cool quantum computing hardware.

Although IBM describes it as the first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use, it is worth noting that a 20 machine qubits is far from powerful enough for most commercial applications that people imagine for a quantum computer with more qubits, is qubits which are useful for more than 100 microseconds.

It is not surprising, therefore, that IBM stresses that this is a first attempt and that systems are "designed to one day deal with problems that are currently seen as very complex and exponential to deal with classical systems."

A IBM clearly thinks about the system Q as a work of art and, in fact, the end result is quite impressive. It is an airtight box of 2.7 meters high and wide, with the quantum computing chandelier hanging in the middle, with all parts well hidden.