Cambridge trial brings UK closer to quantum computing breakthrough
The trial of a new system could help standardise quantum computers across the world
By Hasan Chowdhury | The Telegraph
A Cambridge University spinout has reached a key milestone in the race to commercialise quantum computers after successfully completing a trial of a system that could make the UK “a world-leading force” in the field.
Riverlane, a Cambridge University spinout, trialled its “high performance” software known as Deltaflow.OS to see if it can work as a “universal operating system” that can boost the performance of critical quantum computer features a thousand-fold.
The development, made on a quantum computer in Oxford, marks a key breakthrough that would allow quantum computers everywhere to become standardised, as Riverlane’s software aims to act as a single system that works on any hardware it is applied to.
The software will be used on “all working quantum computers in the UK” with guidance from the National Physical Laboratory, in what is hoped will “transform the UK quantum technology ecosystem”.
We have solved a really important problem in quantum computing: how hardware and software interact whilst teasing the highest possible performance out of a quantum computer
said Dr Steve Brierley, chief executive of Riverlane.
Quantum computing has been touted as the future of the technology industry, offering a route forward for superior, more secure and faster computers built using the understanding of atomic particles in quantum physics.
Computers currently work and follow instructions based on a binary code of 1s and 0s, the smallest units of data on a computer, whereas quantum computers can use both at the same time, offering an exponential boost in power.
Existing quantum computers, made by the likes of Google and IBM, run on “bespoke” systems that are not portable to other hardware or laboratories, making it difficult to be used by others.
According to Dr Brierley, the current state of quantum computing is equivalent to having to make an “individual, tailored operating system for every existing conventional computer in the world”, but its trial showed its software could begin to standardise systems everywhere.
The project, which involves key collaborators including former FTSE 100 chipmaker ARM, as well as start-ups such as Oxford Ionics and Universal Quantum, recently received a £7.6m grant from the UK government in a bid to support its push to reach the market.
The milestone comes a year after Google claimed it reached “quantum supremacy” in a paper published in Nature with a computer that could perform a calculation in 200 seconds that today’s most powerful computer would require 10,000 years to complete.