NASA Purchases ‘Quantum’ Computer

NASA Purchases 'Quantum' ComputerA $15m computer that uses “quantum physics” effects to boost its speed is to be installed at a NASA facility. It will be shared by Google, NASA, and other scientists, providing access to a machine said to be up to 3,600 times faster than conventional computers.

‘Fractions of a second’

Unlike standard machines, the D-Wave Two processor appears to make use of an effect called quantum tunnelling. This allows it to reach solutions to certain types of mathematical problems in fractions of a second. Effectively, it can try all possible solutions at the same time and then select the best.

Google wants to use the facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California to find out how quantum computing might advance techniques of machine learning and artificial intelligence, including voice recognition. University researchers will also get 20% of the time on the machine via the Universities Space Research Agency (USRA).


‘Skepticism’

NASA will likely use the commercially available machine for scheduling problems and planning. Canadian company D-Wave Systems, which makes the machine, has drawn skepticism over the years from quantum computing experts around the world. Until research outlined earlier this year, some even suggested its machines showed no evidence of using specifically quantum effects.

Reportedly costing up to $15m, housed in a garden shed-sized box that cools the chip to near absolute zero, it should be installed at NASA and available for research by autumn 2013.

Do you think the quantum computer to be installed in NASA will be a great contribution to its projects? Feel free to comment on this latest technological development!

Source: Alex Mansfield, BBC News

Image: MIT Technology Review