Google and Nasa have been working on a lightning-fast quantum computer that is 3,600 times faster than a supercomputer at solving complex problems
The technology company’s artificial intelligence lab believe they may finally have proof that their opinion-dividing quantum computer actually works.
Google and Nasa announced they were collaborating on the D-Wave X2 quantum computer, which they say is 100 million times faster than a conventional computer chip, in 2013. It can answer certain algorithms in seconds rather than years.
Google director of engineering, Hartmut Neven, said: “For a specific, carefully crafted proof-of-concept problem we achieve a 100-million-fold speed-up.”
Photo: D WAVE SYSTEMS INC / COMMONS
In a blog post he added: “We found that for problem instances involving nearly 1,000 binary variables, quantum annealing significantly outperforms its classical counterpart, simulated annealing. It is more than 108 times faster than simulated annealing running on a single core.
“We also compared the quantum hardware to another algorithm called Quantum Monte Carlo. This is a method designed to emulate the behaviour of quantum systems, but it runs on conventional processors.
“While the scaling with size between these two methods is comparable, they are again separated by a large factor sometimes as high as 108.”
However, Matthias Troyer of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich said he wasn’t convinced.
“You need to read the fine print,” he told New Scientist. “This is 108 times faster than some specific classical algorithm on problems designed to be very hard for that algorithm but easy for D-Wave.”
Hemet does admit in his blog post that other algorithms can currently beat D-wave but says Google expect “those methods will soon become ineffective”.
According to Engadget, the computer figures out the “most efficient overall course of action to complete a task when given a set number of options” and could be key to the development of next-generation artificial intelligence.
Sceptics have questioned if the computer actually taps into quantum physics to solve algorithms but now Google and Nasa say they have proof.
“It is a truly disruptive technology that could change how we do everything,” said Deepak Biswas, director of exploration technology at Nasa’s Ames research centre in California.