Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced that it will allow all existing customers to access quantum computers through its cloud service.
The quantum computers are early-stage models provided by three technology companies—D-Wave Systems Inc., IonQ Inc. and Rigetti Computing—rather than by Amazon itself.
Ahead of the launch, Amazon spent more than eight months testing out these quantum computing platforms on its cloud. Fidelity Investments, the financial behemoth, was one of a handful of companies given early access to the platforms.
Adam Schouela, head of emerging technologies at the Fidelity Center for Emerging Technology, noted that running financial calculations over the cloud-based quantum computers was ‘orders of magnitude faster’ than running the same calculations on traditional computing hardware.
Next generation of computing
However, Amazon isn’t the only major cloud provider jumping into the quantum computing ring. Microsoft, which is the closest competitor to Amazon in the cloud services space with 18% of the market, has developed its own quantum computers rather than rely on smaller companies. IBM also offers quantum computing services, although it controls less than 2% of the burgeoning cloud market.
Quantum computing is widely seen as the next jump in processing technology. Traditional computers read electrical pulses that are interpreted as strings of ones and zeros. But quantum computers read qubits—particles like photons and electrons rather than electrical pulses—that have some special quantum properties. For example, qubits can be both one and zero at the same time, a phenomenon known as superposition.
These properties enable quantum computers to be vastly more powerful than even today’s most advanced supercomputers. Among other things, they can calculate all possible outcomes of a model simultaneously rather than running simulations in sequence.
The development of quantum computing, along with increased accessibility to quantum computers through the cloud, is expected to have significant impacts on data security, artificial intelligence, financial modeling, and more.