Here’s the deal: classical computers rely on bits to measure processing capability and power but the arrival of quantum computers has completely obliterated traditional PC performance. So much so that security experts are worried that in the wrong hands, they could mean the end of encrypted communications and internet as we know it. Surely these things can’t be cheap?
Power doesn’t come cheap. And for now, quantum computers are out of the reach of the mass market.
Quantum vs Classical computing
Before we get to how much these things cost, let’s talk about the power difference between the two.
That laptop or PC you’re using has either a 32-bit or 64-bit processor. It can handle data in the form of 1s and 0s only.
A 32-bit CPU can handle 34,359,738,368 bits at once. A 64-bit processor holds double the number of bits than that.
With us so far? Good. Because here is where it gets more complex.
Quantum computers rely on qubits. A qubit can be both or either 1 and 0 at any time. In simpler terms, It exists in both states or even one of them – a total of four states. This basically translates to an exponential increase in power than traditional bits.
Fact: A 100 Qubit quantum computer is more powerful than all the supercomputers on Earth combined.
How much do quantum computers cost?
Now for the burning question – how much do these darn things cost?
- Commercial quantum computers like D-Wave One with 50 qubits – $10,000,000.
- D-Wave’s 2000 qubit quantum computer – $15 million.
- For every extra qubit in processing power – $10,000.
- SpinQ’s portable quantum computer with 2 qubits – $5,000.
It is interesting how these computers do their quantum processing calculations. SpinQ’s ‘cheap’ model, which is aimed at schools, relies on magnetic resonance for limited problem-solving capabilities. In comparison, D-Wave’s 2000Q model employs a topographical map to solve problems.
Given these examples, researchers agree that the ‘true state quantum computer’ is yet to happen. These computers need to achieve zero errors and maximum stability, a far cry from existing quantum computers. Nevertheless, this is a only matter of when. These new machines will end up costing billions, and will become a reality after a decade.
Currently, IBM has the fastest quantum computer with 127 qubit processing capability.
Who wants to pay for quantum computing?
Over the years, there has been billions poured into the research and development of quantum computers by private and public entities.
These industries stand to benefit the most with problem-specific quantum computing capabilities:
The problems they have can’t be solved by applications in use today. But the processing power and complex problem-solving capabilities possessed by quantum computers can.
How much energy do you need to run a quantum computer?
Turns out that quantum computers are resource-hungry. They need proper cooling on top of the energy to run efficiently.
It is estimated that a quantum computer that consumes 25 kilowatt per year will require $25,000 per unit to run in the US! Its hard not to see corporations paying millions of dollars into just keeping their quantum rigs cool and running.
The D-Wave model relies on -460 degrees Fahrenheit to keep running in a stable form.