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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

Go deeper

What the 2020 election means for science

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 presidential election presents two stark paths for the direction of future-focused scientific research.

Why it matters: Science is a long game, with today's breakthroughs often stemming from research carried out decades ago, often with government help. That means the person who occupies the White House over the next four years will help shape the state of technology for decades into the future.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 9 mins ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.