IBM is not alone in its research on quantum computing; both the University of California at Santa Barbara and Yale University are doing similar research. Ketchen, however, argued that only IBM has the resources to actually fabricate quantum-computing chips.
Currently, IBM can maintain the state of a gate electrode long enough to perform an operation. That operation is accurate 95 percent of the time, Ketchen said. The scientists want to get the accuracy above 99 percent, so as to reduce data errors to the point where it could be used to perform computations with an acceptable degree of accuracy.
"Once the data error rate gets small enough, you can combine a number of gates together and get a prefect qubit," Ketchen said. "Now things are getting into the ballpark where you can build something and get the right answer. It also says we have to start thinking more seriously about building more complicated things and putting them together."
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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