Fujitsu developing 'real quantum computer'

Company reveals it is working on 'true' quantum machine

Fujitsu is developing a "real quantum computer" the head of the company's research lab has revealed.

Hirotaka Hara, director of Fujitsu Laboratories, told Computerworld that the company is working with a number of research groups to develop a "true" quantum machine.

The company is already pitching its "quantum inspired" Digital Annealer to businesses, a classical chip designed to solve complex combinatorial optimisation problems.

"Even before a real quantum computer arrives to market, we have taken action and completed the Digital Annealer, which embraces what we can do with existing technology," Hara said, via a translator, at the Fujitsu Forum in Tokyo on Thursday.

"But in parallel we are also, at our research institutes overseas and working hand in hand with universities and prestigious research centres, working to develop that real quantum computer," he added.

The company's second generation Digital Annealer, which features a circuit design 'inspired by quantum phenomena' was released in March. The new chip has 8192-bit full connectivity, meaning all bits can freely exchange signals, and fits into a standard rack operating at room temperature.

It is a direct competitor to D-Wave's Quantum Processing Unit (QPU), which also solves optimisation problems. Fujitsu claims its Digital Annealer, with 64 bit graduations, is far more accurate than D-Wave's offering.

Neither the Digital Annealer or D-Wave's QPU is a universal gate quantum computer, which will be able to tackle a much broader set of problems.

The challenge of producing such a computer – which will be able to solve around 50 quantum algorithms rather than just optimisation problems – is being pursued by the likes of IBM, Intel, Google and Microsoft.

It is unclear how advanced Fujitsu is in its efforts, nor the approach it is taking, of which there are a number. 

Hara said Fujitsu's work on its Digital Annealer – which has been done in collaboration with Canadian quantum computer software firm 1QBit and the University of Toronto – was a good start to the company's quantum ambition.

"So when the day comes, when the time is ripe, for that true quantum computer to emerge, we will be making sure that our Digital Annealer technology is a part of that quantum computer," he added.

The author travelled to Fujitsu Forum in Tokyo as a guest of Fujitsu.

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