Google Backs Quantum Computing in Hardware Deal With D-Wave

  • D-Wave agreement gives Google, NASA access to new processors
  • Announcement follows Alibaba forming quantum research lab

Google Inc. is betting on a future when quantum computing won’t be an esoteric technology anymore.

The Web company, along with collaborators NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, has signed a commercial agreement with quantum computer maker D-Wave Inc. that will give them access to new quantum processors as they are developed for as many as seven years, D-Wave said in a statement Monday. The deals builds on on an earlier hardware agreement from May 2013.

Google, which also operates its own parallel quantum hardware research project, is making sure that it will play a role in the next era of computing. D-Wave is building computing technology that claims to tap into some of the unique properties of subatomic particles which, backers say, make it possible to dramatically accelerate computing speeds.

"This allows Google to get the latest machine from D-Wave as soon as it’s available," said Vern Brownell, chief executive officer of D-Wave. The Palo Alto, California-based company produces a new quantum processor every one or two years, he said.

Google, like other large technology companies, is exploring quantum computing as a way to tap into greater computing speeds to power its software and services. Google formed a Quantum Artificial Intelligence group in September 2014 and hired a well-regarded team from the University of California at Santa Barbara to further that research. That team is pursuing its own hardware design as well.

"Google’s effort is very complementary," said Brownell. "We encourage people in the space to do the research."

Some Google rivals have their own quantum projects. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said in July it had co-founded a laboratory with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop quantum computers and security systems. Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. also have their own quantum-computing research initiatives.

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