Google just announced quantum supremacy, a milestone in which the radically different nature of a quantum computer lets it vastly outpace a traditional machine. But Microsoft expects progress of its own by redesigning the core element of quantum computing, the qubit.
Microsoft has been working on a qubit technology called a topological qubit that it expects will deliver benefits from quantum computing technology that today are mostly just a promise. After spending five years figuring out the complicated hardware of topological qubits, the company is almost ready to put them to use, said Krysta Svore, general manager of Microsoft’s quantum computing software work.
“We’ve really spent the recent few years developing that technology,” Svore said Thursday after a talk at the IEEE International Conference on Rebooting Computing. “We believe we’re very close to having that.”
Quantum computers are hard to understand, hard to build, hard to operate and hard to program. Since they only work when chilled to a tiny fraction of a degree above absolute zero — colder than outer space — you’re not likely to have a quantum laptop anytime soon.
But running them in data centers where customers can tap into them could deliver profound benefits by tackling computing challenges that classical computers can’t handle. Among examples Svore offered are solving chemistry problems like making fertilizer more efficiently, or routing trucks to speed deliveries and cut traffic.
Originally published at CNET.