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D-Wave and NEC Partner to Create 'Hybrid' Quantum Applications

Supercomputer giant NEC is teaming up with a quantum computer manufacturer to create practical applications for the cutting-edge tech.

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:48 a.m. UTC

British Columbia-based quantum computing company D-Wave Systems is teaming with NEC, the storied maker of massive supercomputers. The partnership, announced Wednesday, would merge D-Wave's quantum offering with NEC's classical computing environments.

NEC will also invest $10 million in the company and sell the D-Wave Leap quantum computing service alongside its traditional services.

“Japan is the birthplace of quantum annealing and has remained a global leader in quantum application development,” said Alan Baratz, D-Wave executive VP of research and development. “Our collaboration with global pioneer NEC is a major milestone in the pursuit of fully commercial quantum applications.”

Quantum has long been thought to be the next step in computing but the technology has gotten off to a slow start. While Google is claiming "quantum supremacy" by performing quantum tasks in a matter of seconds that would otherwise take a regular computer thousands of years to complete, the kinds of work able to be done on a quantum computer - including any form of crypto mining - is limited.

The importance of the NEC partnership is clear when looking at D-Wave's current cloud offerings. D-Wave's Leap program gives users free access to a D-Wave 2000Q computer and a full SDK to take advantage of their machines. That said, there have been few visible, practical implementations of this quantum architecture. The NEC partnership aims to change that.

"NEC and D-Wave will work with customers to develop applications that harness the power of their collaborative hybrid systems and solve practical business and scientific problems across a variety of industries," according to a D-Wave press release.

"Our collaboration is aimed at fueling application development and business value today," said Motoo Nishihara, CTO at the NEC Corporation.

The goal, therefore, is to get quantum computing into the hands of real businesses that need to solve real problems, something that might be easier said than done.

“A decade ago people said it would take 50 years to get where we are now with quantum computing. Five years ago, they said it would take 25 years to get where we are now. So quantum computing has this nasty habit of exceeding people’s expectations,” said Adam Koltun of the Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) Foundation after Google's announcement. “The blockchain industry does need to grapple with this and be wary.”

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