Feeds

Boffins unveil world's most powerful quantum computer

Based on... er... just five atoms

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Researchers from Stanford University, the University of Calgary and IBM have built what they claim is the most advanced quantum computer to date - a staggeringly powerful beast that uses all of five atoms to store and process data.

The team of boffins used the computer to find the period of a mathematical function, one of the basic maths building blocks of modern cryptography, doing so in the equivalent of a single CPU cycle. By contrast, a traditional microprocessor would have had to run many iterations of the software to come up with the answer.

Don't expect to see this kind of processing power on the desktop anytime soon, though. Quite apart from quantum computing's relative uselessness when it comes to applications that don't require much number crunching - ie. most desktop apps - the researchers reckon that taking the number of atoms from five to between seven and ten will take two years at least.

"A quantum computer could eventually be used for practical purposes such as database searches - for example searching the Web could be sped up a great deal - but probably not for more mundane tasks such as word processing," IBM's Isaac Chuang, the research team leader, told Reuters.

Quantum computing works by using an atom's quantum spin state - essentially the direction it's rotating in - as a way of storing binary data: spin up equals 1, spin down equals 0. Quantum theory, however, states that unobserved particles can spin in both directions simultaneously - it's called 'superposition' - a single direction only emerges when someone one measures it.

Bizarre, we know, but that's what the statistical calculations behind the theory say, and since it's what makes the quantum computer work, who are we to argue?

Superpositioning allows the quantum computer to simultaneously store multiple bit patterns, or states, depending on the number of particles in the system. The number of states equals two multiplied by itself for each particle. In the IBM system, with its five atoms, that makes for 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 32 states. The upshot is that the IBM machine can apply a calculation to 32 sets of numbers in a single go.

Hence the interest of the US National Security Administration and Department of Defense in the team's work. Quantum computing will theoretically make short work of the most complex cryptography codes - codes that would take current computer systems decades to break. Guess who's funding the quantum computing team's work... ®

Related Stories

Boffins predict uncrackable quantum data tech
Boffins unveil 'instant download' chip
Boffins beat Moore's Law with quantum magic
Say hello to hologram RAM
Intel admits founder's Law on its last legs

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Number crunching suggests Yahoo! US is worth less than nothing
China and Japan holdings worth more than entire company
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.