BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese search engine giant Baidu revealed its first quantum computer on Thursday and is ready to make it available to external users, joining the global race to apply the technology to practical uses.
The Baidu-developed quantum computer, dubbed “Qianshi”, has a 10-quantum-bit (qubit) processor, Baidu said in a statement. The Beijing-based company has also developed a 36-qubit quantum chip, it said.
The race for quantum computing
Governments and companies around the world for years have touted the potential of quantum computing, a form of high-speed calculation at extraordinarily cold temperatures that will bring computers to unprecedented processing speeds.
However, current real-world applications in the field are still very basic and limited to a small group of early clients.
The United States, China and the European Union have initiated massively funded projects in quantum computing, hoping to pull ahead in the field, which is often considered as one of the cornerstones on which the new global supremacy will be determined.
Major investment dollars
Global governments and companies will invest around $16.4 billion in quantum development by the end of 2027, according to market researcher IDC.
US tech giant IBM has said that it plans to make a quantum computer ready for commercial use in 2025 with a more-than-4,000 qubit processor. IBM has so far released quantum processors with 127 qubits.
Google is also aiming to develop a computer with 1,000,000 qubits by the end of this decade.
However, between big-name players like Google, Amazon and Microsoft investing a lot of R&D dollars in quantum computing, and venture capitalists backing quantum-computing start-ups, there are worries the technology is being overhyped to the point that it’s setting unrealistic expectations on commercial viability.
Sankar Das Sarma, director of the Condensed Matter Theory Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, recently wrote in Technology Review, that quantum computing start-ups with mind-boggling valuations, such as IonQ’s $2 billion IPO via a SPAC, are making claims about the commercial applications of quantum tech that may be further away than they think.
(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)