D-Wave Systems

By April 18, 2017June 1st, 2017NEWS
2000Q Systems in Lab for website

D-Wave Systems, Inc. is a quantum computing company, based in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. D-Wave is the first company in the world to sell quantum computers.

The D-Wave One was built on early prototypes such as D-Wave’s Orion Quantum Computer. The prototype was a 16-qubit quantum annealing processor, demonstrated on February 13, 2007 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. D-Wave demonstrated what they claimed to be a 28-qubit quantum annealing processor on November 12, 2007. The chip was fabricated at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Microdevices Lab in Pasadena, California. These early prototypes were built upon the research papers by Umesh Vazirani, leading researcher on quantum complexity theory, who dismissed D-Wave’s claims of speedup as a misunderstanding of his work, and suggested that “even if it turns out to be a true quantum computer, and even if it could be scaled to thousands of qubits,  would likely not be more powerful than a cellphone”.


On May 11, 2011, D-Wave Systems announced D-Wave One, described as “the world’s first commercially available quantum computer”, operating on a 128-qubit chipset using quantum annealing (a general method for finding the global minimum of a function by a process using quantum fluctuations) to solve optimization problems. In May 2013, a collaboration between NASA, Google and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) launched a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab based on the D-Wave Two 512-qubit quantum computer that would be used for research into machine learning, among other fields of study.

On August 20, 2015, D-Wave Systems announced the general availability of the D-Wave 2X system, a 1000+ qubit quantum computer. This was followed by an announcement on September 28, 2015 that it had been installed at the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA Ames Research Center.

D-Wave Two

In early 2012, D-Wave Systems revealed a 512-qubit quantum computer, code-named Vesuvius, which was launched as a production processor in 2013.

In May 2013, Catherine McGeoch, a consultant for D-Wave, published the first comparison of the technology against regular top-end desktop computers running an optimization algorithm. Using a configuration with 439 qubits, the system performed 3,600 times as fast as CPLEX, the best algorithm on the conventional machine, solving problems with 100 or more variables in half a second compared with half an hour. The results are presented at the Computing Frontiers 2013 conference.

In March 2013 several groups of researchers at the Adiabatic Quantum Computing workshop at the Institute of Physics in London produced evidence, though only indirect, of quantum entanglement in the D-Wave chips.

In May 2013 it was announced that a collaboration between NASA, Google and the USRA launched a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at Ames Research Center in California, using a 512-qubit D-Wave Two that would be used for research into machine learning, among other fields of study.

D-Wave 2X

On August 20, 2015, D-Wave released general availability of their D-Wave 2X computer, with 1,152 qubits in a Chimera graph architecture (although, due to magnetic offsets and manufacturing variability inherent in the superconductor circuit fabrication fewer than 1,152 qubits are functional and available for use. The exact number of qubits yielded will vary with each specific processor manufactured.) This was accompanied by a report comparing speeds with high-end single threaded CPUs. Unlike previous reports, this one explicitly stated that question of quantum speedup was not something they were trying to address, and focused on constant-factor performance gains over classical hardware. For general-purpose problems, a speedup of 15x was reported, but it is worth noting that these classical algorithms benefit efficiently from parallelization—so that the computer would be performing on par with, perhaps, 30 high-end single-threaded cores.

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