Apr 6, 2024 - Technology

IBM's quantum computer heads to college

The IBM Quantum System One inside RPI's Voorhees Computing Center. Photo courtesy IBM

The IBM Quantum System One inside RPI's Voorhees Computing Center. Photo courtesy of IBM

A former chapel at Troy, New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is now home to the world's first IBM quantum computer on a college campus.

Why it matters: It's an opportunity to start training a new generation of quantum-focused students, researchers and workers, IBM and RPI reps told Axios at Friday's unveiling event.

Driving the news: The computer, an IBM Quantum System One, will be available to RPI researchers, students and outside partners.

What they're saying: Installing quantum computers on college campuses could lead to an explosion of innovation and economic opportunity echoing the birth of the early internet around university supercomputer hubs, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna told Axios at the event.

  • "Workforce development sounds kind of bureaucratic almost. But it really means the people who deeply understand what these machines are capable of ... imagine what they can do," Krishna said.

Between the lines: The system could help RPI attract researchers and students, while IBM is eager for researchers to find applications for its quantum hardware.

Reality check: It's early days for quantum computing, which has not yet achieved the holy grail of "quantum advantage" — the point at which a quantum computer can outperform classical computers.

What's next: Expect Big Blue's quantum computers to show up on more college campuses nationwide, Krishna said, powering the next generation of computer science research.

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