Silicon semiconductors have taken us a dazzling distance along the computing road. But even if they continue unabated to get faster and more powerful (and it's growing more difficult to make that happen) there's a limit to what classical computing can do.
The next real game-change in computing is quantum--tapping the quantum mechanical properties of materials to process information in ways that will make today's biggest and baddest super computers look like pocket calculators. And for the first time scientists, at places like IBM, are moving beyond just theorizing about them to actually envisioning how a finished quantum computer would work. In labs across the globe, the first building blocks of the first quantum computers are slowly becoming real.
That's huge considering a working quantum computer would be the kind of thing that truly moves the ground beneath our feet. With a relatively modest quantum computer, scientists could slice through sophisticated encryption schemes, model quantum systems with unprecedented accuracy, and filter through complex, unstructured databases with unparalleled efficiency.
But first they have to build one.
The idea of quantum computing was introduced in the early 1980s by physicist Richard Feynman, and the field is still very much in its infancy. But as a discipline it's turning a critical corner as the theoretical meshes with the practical. There's more than one way to build a quantum computer, and it's still far too early in the game to know which--if any--of these approaches will produce a working system. But between all of these varied approaches to tapping the quantum world, there's one common thread: it's all about the qubit.
Like their classical cousins, quantum computers rely on units of information. In the classical world, that's a bit (a byte most commonly consists of eight bits), each of which can exist in one of two states: 0 or 1. All of your data--your MP3s, your texts, your documents, your Tumblr--are nothing more than lines of bits.
The quantum analog for the bit is called a qubit. Unlike a bit, a qubit can exist as a 0, a 1, or in a state of superposition, which in quantum lingo basically means it is both a 0 and a 1 at the same time. This is where we enter the strange realm of quantum properties, where things are anything but intuitive. "You start with a sea of all possible answers in your quantum states, and you design your algorithm to peel away the wrong answers so that the right answer emerges," says Matthias Steffen, manager of the experimental quantum computing research team at IBM Research. Rather than considering one solution to a problem at a time, you can consider multiple possible solutions simultaneously.
There are huge challenges standing between us and this mind-numbing computational payoff. Working at the quantum scale usually means working at extremely low temperatures, often bordering on absolute zero. Particles themselves are fickle. Coherence time--the amount of time the carefully cultivated quantum system is available to be read by the computer before the quantum state collapses--is measured in mere microseconds. And because there is an intrinsic margin of error in quantum computation in general, quantum computers must constantly correct themselves for errors.
Then there's the problem of measuring quantum states, which tends to cause them to collapse. This requires a mastery of quantum correlation or entanglement--a strange quantum phenomenon that links the states of two particles together even across distances such that affecting one affects the other--so that researchers can actually measure their quantum systems without destroying them. Needless to say, absolutely none of this is easy.
That's why researchers are starting small, pouring their brainpower and research dollars into developing a single, stable qubit--and eventually strings of tens, then hundreds, and then thousands and tens of thousands of qubits. So what might the quantum computer of the future look like? We're not exactly sure yet, but there are a few different approaches showing a lot of promise.
Why do we keep hearing computers are ever faster and more powerfull? this is the biggest lie, or computers are being artificially slowed down for consumers. The guy at J&R actually admitted that "it's just the way it is" when I complained that I can't find a computer as fast as the one that I used in 2000. Sound cards all have latency now which makes music making impossible on pc's with out buying external soundcards. Computers are not faster now. My dell from 2000 was lightning fast enabling me to make edits faster than my fingers could move, compared to the fastest computer I can get now which takes a second to think after each edit which is extremely frustrating and distracting. Would someone tell the truth for once and explain this?
@ Jonahfreedman Computers are much much faster than they were when you had in 2000. The problem is that the operating system and programs we are using are also magnitudes greater than they were back then. Install windows 2000 and an early version of whatever editing program you used. I feel the same way many times, I miss my XP and its speed and reliability.
-Two both above-
Switching to the older OS will only slow things down more. The reason things don't feel faster isn't because of hardware but because of software.
They are making phones that have the same if not more processing power than a computer from 2000. Hardware is making amazing leaps forward.
It is efficiency that is hurting your program and its not the OS's fault (Depending on which your using)
Windows 7 professional is currently the best program. It supports multithreading and hyperthreading better than previous renditions. The professional moniker gives you the support for much higher RAM ammounts.
The program your using is probably running slower:
A) Because it doesn't support Multithreading.
B) It isn't properly written for efficiency, I have noticed many programs these days have been written with tons of features which is great, but they seem to be forgoing efficiency, which is something that changes drastically depending on HOW it is written.
Since I know nothing about music editing programs, I couldn'y make a recomendation for you on which one to use, but I would suggest a search for one that properly uses the resources available.
But stating that hardware isn't any faster than 2000, and comparing the speeds of a 2000 computer to today is just a silly thoughtless remark.
I don't see what this article has to do with Energy, seeing that it is in the energy category.
Why not discuss interesting things that really do apply to energy and have far reaching implications?
Such as this:
Great introductory article to quantum computing. It's still in its baby stages and coming along quickly, I wouldn't be surprised if the first quantum computer hits the shelfs within 15yrs. I always wonder though if they will set a limit to how many qubits allowable for consumer use, since they are so powerful. In the wrong hands it could be a very dangerous weapon. I, by no means know a lot about this subject, but from what I have gathered 25 qubits would suffice for even the most demanding tasks such as 3D modeling, photo/video editing, gaming..etc. I think that quantum computers will be able to solve all the mysteries of life, the universe, and also come up with the best designs. With a quantum computer that has thousands of qubits you could easily design the entire universe and it's properties to an amazing degree of accuracy (I think you only need 30 qubits to "represent every particle in the known universe...correct me if am wrong). Imagine designing the universe and then programing the quantum computer to come up with the best design solution for cars, space shuttles, solar panels, medicine..etc. It would be a program that would work on the same concept as evolution to come up with the best solution and if it has thousands of qubits it will only take a small amount of time to come up with a solution since it'll be so ridiculously powerful...it's so exciting just thinking about it!
@jonahfreedman refuge88 could not have put it any better. The hardware on computers now are insanely powerful, if you ran the same exact programs on modern computers that you did on ones from 2000, you will noticed how much faster they are. I know that the computer I have now has 10x more processing power than the one I got 9 years ago. What music program are you using? Try cockus reaper, it's small but very powerful, I haven't used it that much but it seems very promising for a person in your situation (and the unlicensed version which is the same as the licensed one is free on their website). Ableton live and FL studio are also great. I feel like cubase is too big and cumbersome, but that's just me there are loads of people that swear by it. Are you sure you have the settings set up properly to avoid latency? It's always a good idea to get a powerful soundcard no matter what if you are going to use a DAW. Also consumer computers are horrible, you can build your own (it's VERY easy) it'll be cheaper, more powerful, and you'll be able to personalize it to your needs, I highly recommend it.
I think that in order for quantam computers to hit the shelves in 15 years. Superconductive materials must be made to perform at room temperatures. Trying to bring down the temp to .10 degrees absolute zero is very energy consuming. It either takes a lot of energy or expensive liquid nitrogen.
Hmm, I wonder if they tried creating or holding qubits in a GEL , as in gel packs or somthing simular.
And folks , once thay have this qubit reality, the skies the limit, we talking - talking thinking computer type applications, perhaps the Android (DATA) is in the further future.
I'm not the treky fan, but do people realize how close we are to copying a star trek type future?
A qubit would work much like our own minds, with decision making skills, but better memory. We, as humans do the same thing, we think between right and wrong decisions constantly. Thats what a qubit would do, weigh all the possabilities in an instant.
Mankind has already copied so many idea's off star trek, so why stop ? Try gel packs like from Star Trek Voyager , see what happens. Besides, liquid water is a conductor with variable patterns of waves, but too uncontrolable, so try GEL...-. At least look at the way water works.
The problem is with programmers. The machine may work faster but the amount of data it has to go threw is monumental. I am not a expert but while studying electricity 20 some years ago I had to do some basic progamming. IT was pure and to the point, unlike today where they dont really understand bits or ladder logic, just packages and building upon someone elses work which makes the data involved with a simple function a problem. In computers they said it was the buss speed but even if you convert it to light speed it still depends upon the amount of data to achivie a simple point
sorry about the spelling I have not spent much time caring about this so long as one can understand what I am saying
After reading through all the comments I noticed that most people have the wrong idea about quantum computers. Most of the things that we do today on a computer like watching a video, writing something in a word document would actually take longer to do on a quantum computer. The quantum computer is only resourcefull for the scientist, not the everyday-man, it is only good at solving certain parallel algorithms that for the normal computer would take billions of years to do.