The Los Alamos National Labaratory in New Mexico, a research institution focused on scientific research and national security, has ordered a 1,000+ qubit computer from Burnaby, B.C.’s D-Wave Systems Inc., the D-Wave 2X, to be installed in their research facility early in 2016.
Los Alamos has been tasked with leading a collaboration between the Department of Energy and several American universities consistent with the goals of the National Strategic Computing Initiative, created in July by an executive order from President Barack Obama, “to maximize benefits of high-performance computing (HPC) research, development, and deployment.”
“Los Alamos is a global leader in high-performance computing and a pioneer in the application of new architectures to solve critical problems related to national security, energy, the environment, materials, health and earth science,” said Robert “Bo” Ewald, president of D-Wave U.S., based in Palo Alto, California. “As we work jointly with scientists and engineers at Los Alamos we expect to be able to accelerate the pace of quantum software development to advance the state of algorithms, applications and software tools for quantum computing.”
D-Wave’s computer employs a quantum annealing technique, which achieves quantum-like effects but is not technically a quantum computer, which most scientists believe to be an impossible achievement.
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“As conventional computers reach their limits in terms of scaling and performance per watt, we need to investigate new technologies to support our mission,” said Mark Anderson of the Laboratory’s Weapons Physics Directorate. “Researching and evaluating quantum annealing as the basis for new approaches to address intractable problems is an essential and powerful step, and will enable a new generation of forward thinkers to influence its evolution in a direction most beneficial to the nation.”
The sale of the D-Wave 2X to Los Alamos adds to D-Wave’s customer base, which now includes Lockheed Martin and Google, who are sharing a computer that D-Wave recently upgraded at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
“Eventually Moore’s Law (that predicted that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every two years) will come to an end,” said John Sarrao, associate director for Theory, Simulation, and Computation at Los Alamos. “Dennard Scaling (that predicted that performance per watt of computing would grow exponentially at roughly the same rate) already has. Beyond these two observations lies the end of the current ‘conventional’ computing era, so new technologies and ideas are needed.”
D-Wave’s group of investors includes Bezos Expeditions, BDC Capital, DFJ, Goldman Sachs, Growthworks, Harris & Harris Group, In-Q-Tel, International Investment and Underwriting, and Kensington Partners Limited.