IBM and the University of Maryland's quantum computers go head to head

ibm q universal quantum computer experience test
Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service for IBM
We’re closer to a large-scale universal quantum computer than ever before, but there is still some debate among experts as to which implementation of the technology has the most potential. For the first time, two promising systems have been put head to head to see which could tear through the same set of algorithms the quickest.

The two quantum computers were fielded by the University of Maryland and IBM. Both are outfitted with a total of five qubits, but IBM’s implementation relies on superconducting metals, whereas the University of Maryland’s system uses electromagnetic fields to trap ytterbium ions, according to a report from the MIT Technology Review.

Despite the vast differences between the two pieces of hardware, both process algorithms the same way, which facilitated like-for-like testing. Since May, IBM has allowed students and enthusiasts to experiment with its quantum computer via the IBM Quantum Experience, which was used in this experiment.

The results of the head-to-head test indicated that while IBM’s system was able to process problems more quickly, the University of Maryland’s hardware was more reliable. That’s because the college’s quantum computer uses interconnected qubits, which are capable of sharing information with one another. IBM’s rig exchanges information using a central hub, and the process can apparently cause the delicate quantum states that are essential to quantum computing to collapse.

These results aren’t likely to have a huge impact on the future of quantum computing. However, the fact that two quantum computers can be compared in this way serves as resounding confirmation of the progress that has been made in this field in recent years.

It’s not yet clear whether superconducting metals, trapped ions, or a different idea entirely will lead to the creation of a large-scale universal quantum computer. However, if it’s possible to compare one system with another, researchers are better equipped to make decisions about what works and what does not. We may still be a way off the breakthrough that makes the practical implementation of quantum computing a reality, but work like this shows that forward progress is being made all the time.

Emerging Tech

Hotter than the sun: Chinese fusion reactor claims breakthrough

China’s “artificial sun” has reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heating power of 10 megawatts -- six times hotter than the center of the sun. The achievement could mark progress towards fusion as a clean energy source.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?

Multi-monitor issues? Here's how to resolve them

If you're running into multi-monitor problems, you're not alone. Two screens are very useful, but they can present some difficulties. Here are some common multi-monitor problems and how to fix them.

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best MacBook deals for November 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

All the best deals on Surface products for Black Friday

A number of retailers are discounting Surface devices for Black Friday. Be it the Surface Pro 2017, Surface Pro 6, or the Surface Go, here's a look at how (and where) you can save big on Surface this holiday season.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…