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Independent research group testing D-Wave Two finds no quantum speedup

Posted June 23, 2014
Pictured is D-Wave’s current 512-qubit version. Credit: Courtesy of D-Wave Systems Inc.

An independent research team with members affiliated with several universities in the U.S. and Switzerland has concluded that the D-Wave Two computer shows no signs of quantum speedup. They’ve written a paper describing how they tested one of the computers that was purchased by Lockheed Martin and the results they found and have had it published in the journal Science.

Scientists would really like to build a truly quantum computer, the benefits it would offer would almost certainly be groundbreaking, leading to new discoveries in  and other areas—plus it would likely allow for speeding up processer intensive applications like weather forecasting. Unfortunately, such a computer is still decades away, and that’s assuming building one is really possible at all. In the meantime, researchers have made progress in building machines that are partially quantum, and one company D-Wave Systems, a startup in Burnaby, Canada has made one such machine for sale. Because of the high price, only a few have been sold, to Lockheed Martin, Google and likely some entities that have not been made public. Prime applications for such a machine are those that are analogous to seeking a lowest point or deepest valley in hilly terrain. Conventional machines must traverse all the hills and valleys to find a solution, while a machine such as the D-Wave (a quantum annealer that takes advantage of ) should be able to burrow though the hills to gain direct access to the valleys.

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