Honeywell is Chasing the Crown of Quantum Supremacy

November 3, 2020

There is no second place in the quest for quantum supremacy.  Honeywell may be the come from behind kid.

What is a quantum computer?
Classical computers store information in bits, 1 or 0.  A quantum computer is based on the principles of quantum mechanics, which explains the behavior of energy and material on the atomic and subatomic levels.  It stores information in units called qubits.

Now, without having to call in Neil de Grasse Tyson to explain this, let’s just say that quantum computers can solve algorithmic problems that would take a normal computer an impractical amount of time (like a thousand years) to solve.

Introducing the H1
They recently unveiled the excitingly named H1, its second gen quantum computer.  It’s based on trapped ion technology.  Google and IBM’s quantum computers use superconducting technology.  Without getting into the weeds, the bottom line is trapped ion-based quantum computers like the H1 may be less error prone but slower than superconducting quantum computers.

And in a nod to practicality, real companies are actually testing the H1 with real world problems and getting promising results.  JP Morgan and BP and are paying to write algorithms on the H! and test those results with classical supercomputers.  Honeywell claims that its machine, though slower, appears to produce more accurate results which, if confirmed, is very impressive.

Google’s claim to the throne
Google claimed quantum supremacy last year when it announced that its 54-qubit Sycamore processor was able to perform a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years.  It published the results of its research in the scientific journal Nature showing how its computer outperformed an IBM quantum computer.

Speed v. accuracy; real world solutions v. theoretical research.  Honeywell, Google, IBM.  So which computer do you pick as the winner? 

Let’s hope this contest has a better ending than the one in Game of Thrones.

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