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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.

Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sen. Kelly Loeffler to return to campaign trail after 2nd negative test

Sen. Kelly Loeffler addresses supporters during a rally on Thursday. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) campaign announced Monday that she "looks forward to getting back out on the campaign trail" after testing negative for COVID-19 for a second time, following earlier conflicting results.

Why it matters: Loeffler has been campaigning at events ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff in elections that'll decide which party holds the Senate majority. Vice President Mike Pence was with her on Friday.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Key government agency says Biden transition can formally begin

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Alex Edelman/CNP/Getty Images

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that she has determined the transition from the Trump administration can formally begin.

Why it matters: Murphy, a Trump appointee, had come under fire for delaying the so-called "ascertainment" and withholding the funds and information needed for the transition to begin while Trump's legal challenges played out.