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Close to the Metal Ep. 34: Quantum Computers are finally landing, but it’s still early

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While chip manufacturers struggle to push their architecture into small silicon wafers, and see only 10 percent performance improvements as result, IBM has its sights set on the next big thing — quantum computing. No longer a pipe dream, the IBM Q is an actual quantum machine that businesses can use for data sets normally unmanageable by standard systems.

In fact, quantum systems are so different from the desktop sitting next to your monitor that IBM still don’t have a clear way of benchmarking or comparing the capabilities of different quantum systems. In Digital Trends’ interview with IBM CTO and VP of Quantum Computing Scott Crowder, he made it clear “This is not the ‘60s or ‘70s, this is the 1940s. We’re still in the very early days; we’re still driving a lot of the basic fundamentals, at the same time that we’re trying to make the systems accessible to a wider group of people.”

Enter IBM Q. Rather than just sell off these futuristic machines to partnered researchers and companies, IBM is working with them to ensure that each specific need is met, and to provide an upgrade path as the technology becomes more substantial. Before you can create mass-market machines for big data and neural networks, you need to identify the problems machines like that are likely to solve.

More: It’s the 1940s again: IBM’s Scott Crowder on the infancy of quantum computers

We’ll sit down and dig into one of the most mysterious and headache-inducing elements of modern computing, and attempt to make sense of IBM’s move into this new world, on this week’s Close to the Metal.

Close to the Metal is a podcast from Digital Trends that focuses on the geekier side of life. It tackles the topics PC enthusiasts argue over in language everyone can understand. Please subscribe, share, and send your questions to podcast@digitaltrends.com. We broadcast the show live on YouTube every Tuesday at 1pm EST/10am PST.