Amazon’s AWS cloud service on Monday announced a fully managed service for developers and researchers to experiment with quantum computers from three hardware providers: D-Wave, IonQ and Rigetti.
Noting that quantum computers are expensive to build and run and must operate in a very extreme environment, an AWS blogger argued that the cloud-based, on-demand model will better suit most organizations. “It may well be the case that production-scale quantum computers are the first cloud-only technology,” wrote Jeff Barr, chief evangelist for AWS.
The service is called Amazon Braket (pronounced Bra-ket), referring to a notation that denotes quantum mechanical states. It will launch to customers in 2020, but previews were available Monday. Boeing plans to collaborate with AWS on potential applications for quantum computing, according to a statement.
AWS also announced a research center for quantum computing next to Caltech to accelerate development of quantum computing hardware and software. Also, a new Quantum Solutions Lab has been created to connect AWS customers with experts in quantum from Amazon and its partners.
There aren’t any commercial grade quantum computers, but IBM has offered access to customers to early quantum computers over its cloud, starting in 2016. Google announced a quantum experiment with its Sycamore processor that generated random strings of numbers in three minutes that it argued would have taken the world’s fastest conventional computers 10,000 years. IBM disagreed and said the calculation could have been done in less than three days on supercomputers. Microsoft is also active in the quantum computing arena.
Amazon’s blog included a brief description of quantum computing. Ordinary computers use bits, either 0 or 1, while quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits. Each qubit can operate as a 1 or a 0, but also both 1 and 0 simultaneously.
Quantum computing is still very young technology but is considered valuable in expanding computing potential beyond the limits of Moore’s Law. The computing potential of quantum means that public key encryption could easily be broken, which is why government researchers for major countries are studying the technology.