Honeywell Claims Quantum Supremacy Is Within Its Reach
Andrew Wheeler posted on April 02, 2020 |
IBM invented a unit of measurement used by Honeywell called “quantum volume.”
Two beryllium ions are trapped in the gold chip in the center and are passing the smallest measurable amounts of energy back and forth in this chip. (Image courtesy of NIST.)
Two beryllium ions are trapped in the gold chip in the center and are passing the smallest measurable amounts of energy back and forth in this chip. (Image courtesy of NIST.)

Honeywell has developed and integrated trapped-ion technology into quantum computing. This is a different category altogether than the quantum computers built by IBM, which use solid-state quantum computing.

Honeywell recently claimed a breakthrough achievement in quantum computing, one that will allow the company to increase the capacity of quantum computers so significantly that it predicts that the torch of quantum supremacy will be it’s to run with. Put succinctly, the company is putting a stake in the ground: in three months, IBM and Google’s efforts to achieve quantum supremacy will be surpassed by Honeywell’s.

The terms by which Honeywell made this pronouncement are based on a relatively new unit of measurement known as quantum volume, which measures the computational capability of a quantum computer.

Honeywell also announced that it has invested in two prominent quantum software providers. Together with these providers, Honeywell will work with JPMorgan Chase to develop quantum computing algorithms.

How Can Honeywell Be So Sure?

As an alternative to solid-state quantum computing, trapped-ion quantum computing research by Honeywell affords the company a new way to approach scalability by exploring and testing differing computational architectures. The quantum volume of a quantum computer in solid-state quantum computing is achieved by linear arrangements of qubits. These linear arrangements of qubits have limitations. Specifically, theylimit the number of qubits that can be strung together.

Honeywell’s trapped-ion technology research is based on superseding these limitations by designing computer architecture in one- and two-dimensional arrays. Honeywell is pinning its hopes on these relatively novel computer architectures coupled with trapped-ion technology to abolish limits on the number of qubits that can be strung together in a quantum computer. This would pave the way for scaling up the number of qubits available in a quantum computer.

To claim quantum supremacy, Honeywell says that it will bring to market a quantum computer with a quantum volume of 64, which is twice as powerful as any existing alternative from any company.

IBM created quantum volume as a unit of measurement for quantum computing in 2017, and it has already hit 32 this year. IBM predicts that it will double its quantum volume annually. Honeywell is saying that it will beat IBM to a quantum computer with a quantum volume of 64in three months.

Quantum volume as a unit of measurement may not consider the many intricate differences in varying approaches to quantum computing and may not prioritize practical market-based applications as an integral part of assessing the overall value of quantum computers.

Bottom Line

Quantum computers are supremely cost-prohibitive right now, and applications are experimental. There are some cloud-based quantum computing services on the market, and more are expected to follow. Quantum supremacy will likely change hands between two or three companies with powerful state-of-the-art computers. Whether or not Honeywell will deliver on its promise to bring a quantum computer to market and achieve quantum supremacy remains to be seen.


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