Before starting… let me tell you what I imagine from Quantum Computers.

quantum

And maybe something like that actually takes place inside a QC, since basically, they are supercomputers equipped with advanced processing powers. The basic idea behind these supercomputers is to smash some barriers that limit the speed of existing computers by harnessing the counterintuitive physics of subatomic scales. Yes, “subatomic” is the keyword. Today, transistors in computers are already as small as hardware companies can make them with the existing technologies.
So, computer innovators began to seek possible solutions at the atomic and subatomic level, in a field known as quantum computing. We are talking about something like this.


The vision for computers of the future will not use classical bits, but rather ‘qubits’ which are not binary limited and thus can have properties of 0 and 1 simultaneously. This allows for the use of every possible number and sequence simultaneously, unlocking vast amounts of computational power. This, in turn, will allow them to process information in a fraction of the time it would take even the fastest non-quantum systems.

We are beginning to talk about a device for computation that makes direct use of distinctively quantum mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform data operations. With this amazing power we need to understand that QC has the potential to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges in healthcare, energy, environmental systems, smart materials, and beyond. Could this be the opportunity to solve things we could not have imagined solving? I truly believe so.

In October 2019, Google claimed to have achieved a quantum supremacy milestone. Then, in November, Microsoft announced Azure Quantum, a cloud service that lets you tap into quantum hardware providers Honeywell, IonQ, or QCI. Finally, in December, AWS announced Amazon Braket, a cloud service that lets you tap into quantum hardware providers D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti.

What do Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offer today for companies and developers?

Here you can see what Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have to offer. I will try to summarize the research I have done on this space. Of course, all three companies promise updates in the coming months, so I will try to keep up with them in this post.

Let’s begin with Google.

Google

As mentioned, they presented their offer in October 2019.

Google uses Circ (a Python library for writing, manipulating, and optimizing quantum circuits and running them on quantum computers and simulators) to compile and analyze quantum algorithms and simulate fermionic systems, including quantum chemistry. They use an open source library, OpenFermion, which only runs on Mac and Linux. I did not find a service from Google, only the possibility to “simulate” a QC.

When it comes to Amazon.

They presented their offer in December 2019 in re:Invent in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Their product is Amazon Braket (named after a notation system used for equations in quantum mechanics), a service environment to explore and design quantum algorithms. You can build and test your circuits in a simulated environment and then run them on an actual quantum computer (this is not yet available).

AWS brings together three different hardware approaches to quantum calculation from D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti.

Their Braket development environment uses Python and provides a notebook-style interface. The possibility of training for customers and developers is available through Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab. It is worth noting that Amazon will not be operating all of those quantum processors in its own facilities. Instead, it will provide convenient and integrated access to cloud services operated by their respective owners.

Finally, Microsoft.

Microsoft´s Azure Quantum is the world’s first full-stack, open cloud ecosystem that enables quantum impact today. They bring together three different hardware approaches to quantum calculation, from Honeywell, IonQ, and QCI.

For developers, there is a Microsoft Quantum Development Kit available. This open-source kit in GitHub includes the quantum-focused programming language Q# (Q-sharp), as well as tools, quickstarts, and self-guided katas to help you learn the basics of quantum development. Q# provides quantum programmers a framework which allows focusing on the algorithms without having to care about technical details like gate sequence optimization or the physical implementation of a quantum computer. You can request early adopter status from Microsoft by filling out a form.

Here´s a diagram in which you can better understand not only the Software Tools and Services but also the devices Microsoft considered as part of their cloud offer.

Conclusion

The ins and outs of Amazon’s Braket quantum computing service, similar to Microsoft’s Azure Quantum service and to Google’s, suggests a common approach to future infrastructure, in which the world’s biggest cloud companies serve as gateways to their own classical computer servers, as well as to specialized quantum hardware built by corporate partners. That approach could well foster a diverse set of quantum computer companies — at least until Microsoft, Google, IBM and the other heavyweights of the computer industry are developing their own hardware, or buying it.

Quantum computing is still an early stage technology, and designing useful quantum applications requires new skills and radically different approaches to problem solving. Where current computers would require billions of years to solve the world’s most challenging problems, a quantum computer could find a solution in minutes, hours, or days. So, which offer to choose?

quantum

“You can build and test your circuits in a simulated environment and then run them on an actual quantum computer” –this is the promise from all three companies. I think it is safe to say that most customers will never own a quantum computer and so will find the cloud-based, on-demand model a better fit.

The FAQ today are:

  • How much are these quantum cloud services going to cost?
  • Amazon, Google, and Microsoft haven’t said.
  • When exactly will they be available in preview or in beta?
  • Amazon, Google, and Microsoft haven’t said.
  • How will switching between different quantum processors work in practice?
  • Amazon, Google, and Microsoft haven’t said.

I did not find a clear answer to these questions. If anyone reading this article already has different information, please share it with me ivana.tilca@3xmgroup.com, I will gladly update this article.

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