Quantum computer firm D-Wave claims massive performance boost

Now with more than 1000 qubits (Image: D-Wave)

D-Wave Systems in British Columbia, Canada, is the only company in the world selling quantum computers, and it counts Google and NASA among its customers.

But after four years on the market there is still no clear evidence its machines can solve problems faster than ordinary computers.

Now the firm has announced the D-Wave 2X, and claims it is up to 15 times faster than regular PCs. However, outside experts contacted by New Scientist say the test is not a fair comparison.

The theory behind such computers, which exploit the weird properties of quantum mechanics, is sound. A device built using qubits, which can be both a 0 and a 1 at the same time, promises to vastly outperform regular binary bits for certain problems, like searching a database.

But putting that theory into practice has proved tricky, and though experiments show the D-Wave machines display quantum behaviour, it’s not clear this is responsible for speeding up computation.

The D-Wave 2X is the company’s third computer to go on sale, and features more than 1000 qubits – double the previous model. Other changes have reduced noise and increased performance, says D-Wave’s Colin Williams.

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