Quantum computing is redefining computing. From a fringe idea, it has rapidly developed to a point where the major tech firms are battling to achieve quantum supremacy. A consortium led by Cambridge University has recently developed an operating system that quantum computing on a chip. The consortium wants to make quantum computers transparent and widely accessible. Red Shark News discuss this incredible breakthrough.
The Cambridge Independent Press likened this development to the moment in the 1960s when computers went from great big things that could fill entire rooms, to something that could fit on a desk.
Quantum computers are terribly complex things and extremely expensive to build. Across the world, there are only 50 quantum computers. These quantum computers operate using different software. At present, there is no widely used operating system for quantum computers, as we have iOS, Linux and WIndows for traditional computers and laptops. The Cambridge University consortium not only reduces the size of quantum computers, it offers a way to deliver the same operating system to multiple kinds of quantum computers. If successful, this would lead to the adoption of something approaching an operating system standard for the industry.
The operating system has been named Deltaflow-on-ARTIQ, or Deltaflow.OS for short. The system was designed by Riverlane, a Cambridge University startup. The operating system will, as we have discussed, be run via a chip that was developed by SEEQC, a member of the consortium. It uses a sliver of the space that was needed by previous systems.
Just as the computer was shrunk and put on a desk (hence “desktop”), the quantum computer has been shrunk from the size of a room to something that fits on a chip. This will allow quantum computers to be produced at dramatically reduced cost and at vastly greater scale.
Quantum computers are revolutionary. They allow a computer to perform multiple tasks simultaneously, thanks to the fact that they store information in qubits. Qubits are able to exist in multiple states all at the same time. This is different from traditional computers which store information in bits. Traditional computers have to alternate between one bit and another, between 1s and 0s. When your computer starts to slow down, for example, it’s because it’s essentially struggling to cope with the work it’s doing. This is a function of how information is stored. Quantum computers are faster, therefore, because they can perform multiple, different tasks at the same time.
One of the hindrances toward universal adoption of quantum computers has been their size. They need to be able to fit in as many qubits as possible in order to be able to perform truly difficult tasks. That’s hard to achieve when they are so big. By reducing their size to a chip, it’s now possible to fit in an enormous number of qubits. The consortium believes that it has solved a massive problem for the quantum era. From the best cosmetic dentistry to solving complex mathematical problems, it’s hard to overstate how much of an impact quantum computing will have on our lives. The future is here.