D-Wave sells Lockheed Martin new quantum computer to address 'real-world problems'

Quantum computing company D-Wave has secured a deal to supply U.S. defence contractor Lockheed Martin with a new computer system that doubles the processing capacity of its previous model. 

Quantum computing company D-Wave has secured a deal to supply U.S. defence contractor Lockheed Martin with a new computer system that doubles the processing capacity of its previous model.

The Burnaby company says it will complete installation of its 1,000-qubit system in a lab at the University of Southern California (USC) by January 2016 — the second time since 2011 it’s upgraded its system for Lockheed Martin.

Financial details of the deal announced November 16 were not released.

Regular computers make calculations using two bits — ones and zeros — while quantum computers’ qubits possess a “superposition” allowing them to be one and zero at the same time to calculate all possible values in one operation.

While D-Wave’s latest quantum computing system has 1,000 qubits, the algorithm for a full-scale quantum computer requires 8,000 qubits.

According to computer security consultant Rob Slade, what D-Wave has developed is a quantum coprocessor that mimics the functions of a quantum computer through least-path analysis to calculate the simplest and most likely answer to a complex question.

Greg Tallant, who leads the defence contractor's end of USC’s Lockheed Martin Quantum Computation Center, said in statement the company would use the new system to “address the real-world problems being faced by our customers.”

D-Wave has also sold the new 1,000 qubit system, which hit the market in August, to an artificial intelligence lab operated by Google, NASA and the Universities Space Research Association.

It also secured a deal last week with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to help it further its research into high-performance computing.

torton@biv.com

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