"It is unlikely that QCs will replace desktop machines any time soon," Gildert says. "In terms of years, it depends on the effort invested, available funding, and the people working on the problem. The logical assumption is that these machines will be cloud-based co-processors for existing data centers used by companies that have very difficult problems to solve. Quantum systems are very good at solving a specific class of hard problems in the fields of AI and machine learning, so we are concentrating on building tools that help introduce the potentials of quantum computing to the people who work in these areas."
Addison Snell, CEO of Intersect360 Research, an analyst firm specializing in high performance computing, says, "Quantum computing is still of interest primarily among government and defense research labs. And, while the principles of quantum computing have been described for years, it is a wholly new paradigm, and the number of applications it will work for, even theoretically at this point, is small. However, some of these applications could be relevant to national security, so a high degree of interest remains."
"Quantum computing is certainly 'on the radar' of IBM, HP, and other supercomputing vendors, but it is difficult to say how many engineers they have working on this technology. At this point, it is uncertain whether quantum computing will ever have any role beyond a small handful of boutique supercomputing installations; but if or when it does, it is not likely we'll see commercially available working systems within the next five years."
"That depends what you mean by working systems," Stamp adds. "If you believe D-Wave, we already have one system commercially available now. I think that for a genuine quantum computer, we may be talking about 10 years for something that a very big company can buy and 25 to 30 years for the ordinary consumer."
"I'd put quantum computing, even if it proves competitive and valid, 20 years out because of the very complex infrastructure that has to go with it," says Michael Peterson, analyst and CEO at Strategic Research Corporation. "Developing a new technology like this requires 'breaking the laws of physics' more than once.' However, we did it with disk technology many times over during the past 25 years, and we'll do it many times more."
Mordoff adds that there are other commercial companies evaluating quantum computers, but no one is actually 'using' them, thus far, except Lockheed and D-Wave, of course. "Whether we want this or not, we have to eventually venture into a quantum domain," Ekert says.
"Some researchers believe that general purpose quantum computers will never be developed. Instead, they will be dedicated to a narrow class of use such as the optimization engine of D-Wave Systems. This suggests architectures where traditional computers offload specific calculations to dedicated quantum acceleration engines. It's still likely to be around 10 years before the acceleration engine approach is ready for general adoption by the classes of user that can make use of them; however, they will likely be attractive offerings for cloud service providers, adds Tully."
Sartain is the author of "Data Networks 101" and a freelance journalist from Salt Lake City, Utah. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.