We've been hearing about quantum computing for more than two decades but so far this field of computing has seen little uptake. Now researchers believe quantum computing may be on the cusp of a series of breakthroughs that may make supercomputers obsolete in as little as five years from now. If this all pans out, future "universal quantum computers" may be able to perform the same tasks as supercomputers - but in the blink-of-an-eye rather than requiring hours or days of computation. Additionally, quantum computers would be able to solve problems no supercomputer can solve today, as well as create impossible to crack encryption algorithms. Full details at EE Times.
Today only a single company — D-Wave Systems — produces a commercial quantum computer, and even D-Wave admits its latest "2X" is no substitute for a supercomputer (except for a small set of optimization tasks). Within five years, however, all that may be changed.
Quantum computing uses qubits (quantum bits) on the atomic scale; it is predicted to be faster and able to store more data than transistor-based computing. Some researchers are predicting that the market for "universal" quantum computers that do everything a supercomputer can do plus everything a supercomputer can not do — in a chip that fits in the palm of your hand — will be burgeoning. The rise of quantum computing may be as important a shift as John von Neumann's stored program-and-data concept.