Canadian researchers from D-Wave Systems expect to be able to sell the first quantum processors in 2008.
D-Wave demonstrated a system it calls "the world's first commercially viable quantum computer" on Tuesday at a press conference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. The company plans to begin selling QCs in 2008, pitching them as an adjunct to conventional digital computers, not a replacement for them.
QCs can solve problems that have enough data to stump a traditional supercomputer, such as the behavior of electrons in a molecule, D-Wave said. To solve such equations today, researchers use approximate simulations, but QCs will be able to model each electron.
The system relies on processors built with the superconducting materials aluminum and niobium. When these metals are cooled to absolute zero, their electrons form special particles called bosons, according to D-Wave. Bosons are powerful tools for computing because they can hold binary values of both zero and one simultaneously, whereas conventional digital bits must choose a single value.
It's not really useful for regular users but more for medical researchers, chemists and financial modelers.