Alibaba Cloud has partnered with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to build one of the world’s fastest quantum processors and offer its vast computing power as a cloud-based service to customers.
The “superconducting quantum computing cloud” is powered by an 11-quantum-bit processor, making it the second most powerful quantum service available to the public. Only Intel’s 20-qubit system, launched last November, is faster. Intel also built the fastest quantum computer, overall, at 50 qubits.
Quantum computers are super computers that process information at volumes and speeds exponentially higher than classical computers. Researchers say they have the potential to deliver efficiencies in logistics, predict risks in the global financial system or even discover new medicines.
For Alibaba Cloud customers, the new service would allow technology companies working with quantum computers to test algorithms and, ultimately, the capability of their own processors. That, in turn, would help to advance quantum computing as a whole, Alibaba Cloud said.
“By introducing quantum-computing services on the cloud, we make it easier for the teams to experiment with quantum applications in a real environment to better understand the property and performance of the hardware, as well as lead the way in developing quantum tools and software globally,” Shi Yaoyun, chief quantum technology scientist at Alibaba Cloud, said.
“The user experience offered on cloud will, without doubt, help us further enhance our platform,” he said.
This isn’t Alibaba Cloud’s first foray into quantum technology. In 2015, the company partnered with CAS to establish the first quantum-computing lab in Asia, which followed soon after with the world’s first cloud-based quantum cryptography method. Last May, the lab helped to develop the world’s first photon quantum computer.