Thursday, 21 November 2013

Researchers Break Record for Quantum Computing

Researchers from British Columbia's Simon Fraser University have done the unthinkable.  They have managed to maintain a quantum memory superposition state, at room temperature, longer than any previous attempts. What's most impressive is the fact that the record-setting superposition lasted nearly 100 times longer than the previous record of 25 seconds.

So how long did they maintain the superposition?  An astounding 39 minutes!

If this doesn't sound impressive to you, consider the fact that quantum computing usually requires extremely cold temperatures to be successful.  For example, a superposition at absolute zero (-273C°) would be the norm for maximum efficiency however the Simon Fraser University researchers accomplished their feat at a relatively balmy 25°C.  This is a major breakthrough no matter how you look at it.

If they are able to take their test results and use them to double their time, imagine what they'll be able to do with the next jump... Is 80 minutes out of the question?  There's no doubt that quantum computing is the future of high-speed algorithms and computing functions.  As such, it is also the future of high-speed data communications and IT services.

Quantum computing uses an entirely different paradigm that works with data contained in various quantum states rather than expressed as binary data.  The fascinating thing about quantum computing is that data can exist in many different states simultaneously.

In theory, quantum computing allows data to be represented and crunched in any number of states, depending on the devices that will use and manipulate the data.  Different devices could use different states of data without disturbing the others.  Moreover, quantum states allow massive amounts of data to be handled at lightning fast speeds.

Being able to design and build a supercomputer that can maintain a quantum superposition for 39 minutes shows, at least in concept, that a future machine could be built to run indefinitely.  It certainly gives new meaning to IT power and cooling design.

Untapped Potential

For those of us involved in the data centre and collocation sector, the untapped potential of quantum computing is virtually limitless.  Just think about how much data we can currently crunch and manipulate using a binary system and state-of-the-art equipment then imagine multiplying that hundreds of times over with a quantum-based supercomputer.

We've seen it in sci-fi movies already.  We've seen imaginations of instant communications and transfers of incredibly large chunks of data, futuristic translator devices for intergalactic communications, and incredibly fast analysis of large chunks of data that could not be touched by a traditional binary system.  And you know what they say about sci-fi film technology: it's only a matter of time before it becomes reality.

It's true that there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome before quantum computing is the norm.  Nevertheless, what the researchers at Simon Fraser University accomplished is nothing less than phenomenal.  It is also nothing less than historic.  Their accomplishment clearly sets the stage for the first quantum computer with an indefinite shelf life.

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