Quantum of Suspicion: Despite another $29m, D-Wave doubts remain

What exactly is company offering?

Shot of D-Wave's 16 qubit chip

Controversial quantum computing venture D-Wave Systems has scooped $29m in lovely fresh cash, courtesy of investors, despite lingering doubts about whether what it offers can be considered "quantum".

This is D-Wave’s tenth round of funding from 14 investors, bringing total investments to fairly hefty $174m.

D-Wave didn’t identify the source of its latest infusion, but emphasised the line-up included one “large institutional investor” among others.

D-Wave claims it is the first quantum computing company, with customers including Lockheed Martin, Google and NASA. However, there’s considerable debate and uncertainty about whether what D-Wave offers can actually be considered quantum.

Scientists and experts in the field of physics have disputed whether what D-Wave has can accurately be called quantum computing.

The company was also dealt a minor setback last year when customer Google set up its own project building a quantum computer, although it promised to continue to work with D-Wave.

The year before, an academic paper said what D-Wave offered wasn’t quantum computing, but that something “quantum-like” was happening inside its box.

Nevertheless, the company now has a decent cash pile, with past investors having included Bezos Expeditions and Goldman Sachs.

The current cash injection will be used to fund development of the hardware and software for D-Wave’s claimed quantum systems. It will also be used to expand the application ecosystem – meaning encouraging and working with independent software vendors to run on its systems.

Quantum computing is theoretically faster than ordinary computers. The devices use quantum mechanics to accelerate computation, using quantum bits – qubits – that can store data as a "0", a "1" or as both.

Quantum systems are supposedly faster at solving problems because they look at solutions simultaneously – quantum annealing – rather than sequentially.

D-Wave claims that its 512-qubit D-Wave Two computer is the most advanced quantum computer in the world and last year accompanied a round of fund raising with headline-friendly pieces about its technology. ®

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