Oct 29, 2020 - Science

Honeywell moves the qubit forward with new quantum computer

Photo of Honeywell's optical signal conditioning in its H1 quantum computer

Optical system conditioning on the H1 quantum computer. Photo: Courtesy of Honeywell

Honeywell on Thursday introduced the next generation of its quantum computing system, claiming the highest quantum volume measured in the industry.

Why it matters: New versions of quantum computers are coming out almost monthly, as the industry continues to push the technical boundaries of the technology. The real challenge, however, comes with designing systems that can move out of the lab and into the hands of actual customers.

By the numbers: Honeywell's H1 system offers 10 fully connected qubits — the quantum bits that are the basic unit of quantum computing — and a proven quantum volume of 128.

Yes, but: As importance as raw performance is, what matters even more is a quantum computer's ability to actually perform useful applications for commercial clients, says Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions.

  • "This has never been an academic exercise for us. It's a business and we want to serve industries that could be massively affected by quantum."

How it works: Potential customers will be able to access the H1 on the cloud via a subscription service, and receive help from Honeywell's quantum experts — useful, since using a quantum computer is still far more complex than employing a classical one.

  • Among the customers with access to H1 is the pharmaceutical giant Merck, which can employ quantum computers — often together with classical ones — to help in predicting drug discovery and optimizing drug production and distribution.
  • "Honeywell claims to have the highest quantum volume, so that is something that is going to be of interest to us," says Kam Chana, Merck's director of computational platforms.

The bottom line: Records are made to be broken on quantum computing, but the winners will be the companies that can provide a useful commercial ecosystem.

Go deeper: Why quantum computing matters

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