IBM has announced that its cloud computing service will offer access to a 20-qubit quantum computer before the end of the year. Previously, the company offered only a 5-qubit quantum computing service, and it was available for free for use a research tool. The new 20-qubit machine is a commercial service.
Quantum computing poses challenges for developers because qubits have a high error rate, and it only has a short period of time for performing advanced operations. “The holy grail is fault-tolerant universal quantum computing," said Dario Gil, IBM Research vice president. "Today, we are creating approximate universal, meaning it can perform arbitrary operations and programs, but it’s approximating so that I have to live with errors and a [limited] window of time to perform the operations."