Many organizations are paving the road to a future built on quantum computing, and that future is a promising one. With quantum computers at our fingertips, humanity will be able to solve hugely complex problems at scale and faster than ever.
However, getting to that future has a significant amount of roadblocks to overcome first before quantum computing becomes widely available. Many companies -- of all sizes -- are actively developing and building quantum computers and capabilities.
Companies building quantum computers
As quantum computing continues to develop and undergo research, companies are building quantum capabilities in both hardware and software. Companies in this list are developing quantum capabilities in various ways, including infrastructure, algorithms and development environments for testing.
While this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the companies building quantum computers.
Amazon is a more recent player joining the race to build a quantum computer. In 2021, Amazon announced the opening of the AWS Center for Quantum Computing in Pasadena, Calif. It has partnered with the California Institute of Technology to foster the next generation of quantum scientists and fuel their efforts to build a fault-tolerant quantum computer.
In addition to these efforts, Amazon offers a quantum computing service called Amazon Braket, which provides developers access to quantum computers and tools from third-party partners. This service enables customers to speed up their own quantum computing research, build quantum projects and run quantum algorithms.
D-Wave Systems, a Canada-based company, is the world's first organization to sell a commercial quantum computer. Its latest, the D-Wave Advantage system, features a processor architecture with more than 5,000 qubits and 15-way qubit connectivity.
D-Wave's quantum computers use a process called quantum annealing. This process is specifically designed for optimization, so when users map a problem into a search, the processing unit considers all possibilities simultaneously and presents calculations that correspond to the optimal configurations of qubits found. These values are the best possible outcomes, resulting in higher-quality results at scale.
D-Wave is currently developing an incremental follow-up to the Advantage system. In addition to hardware, the company offers a cloud-based full stack of systems to enable enterprises, government agencies, national laboratories and academic organizations to build quantum applications.
Google's Quantum AI lab has been developing a programmable superconducting processor. A recent iteration is Sycamore, a 54-qubit processor composed of high-fidelity quantum logic gates.
In 2019, Google claimed Sycamore had achieved quantum supremacy. Quantum supremacy is the point at which a quantum device can solve a problem exponentially faster than a classical processor. In this case, Sycamore took about 200 seconds to sample one instance of a quantum circuit 1 million times -- something that would have taken a classical supercomputer nearly 10,000 years to do.
Since then, Sycamore has been used to run chemical simulations, wormhole simulations and more. Google has also developed a software stack of open source tools and a quantum computing service to develop novel quantum algorithms. Its research team is continuing to push innovation in quantum computing, from hardware control systems and quantum control to physics modeling and quantum error correction.
In November 2022, IBM held the Quantum Summit, where it unveiled a development roadmap detailing its plans and timeline for progressing quantum computing through 2025. Its primary goal is to go beyond using single processors, and by 2025, it plans to combine multichip processors into what it has named the Kookaburra processor. Compared to IBM's latest processor, Osprey, which has 433 qubits, IBM plans for the multichip Kookaburra processor to have 4,158 qubits.
These plans are ambitious, but IBM has a strong history in quantum development. In 2019, it launched a commercial quantum computer, the IBM Quantum System One. It's currently developing the IBM Quantum System Two to better serve Osprey and future quantum processors.
In addition to hardware, IBM runs a suite of cloud-based quantum systems, providing researchers, organizations and developers with access to various services and resources, including IBM Quantum Composer, IBM Quantum Lab and Qiskit, an open source SDK for quantum computers. This platform has both public and premium tiers for users to develop, test and run quantum projects.
IonQ's quantum computers use trapped-ion technology. Most quantum hardware uses synthetic quantum systems for its qubits, but IonQ uses naturally occurring individual atomic ions at the core of its processing units. These ions are trapped in a 3D space, and IonQ uses lasers to help prepare and perform the calculations.
IonQ has three quantum systems: IonQ Harmony, an 11-qubit system that launched in 2020; IonQ Aria, a 25-qubit system that launched in 2022; and IonQ Forte, a 32-qubit system that's currently under development and in beta testing with researchers. All are based on IonQ's trapped-ion technology architecture, and Harmony and Aria are available through IonQ Quantum Cloud or Amazon Braket.
Microsoft is currently developing its own scalable, full-stack quantum machine with a unique approach that's focused on topological qubits. The research team at Microsoft has invented a control chip, called Gooseberry, and a cryo-compute core that are key to this approach.
In short, the chip and core work together to maintain a stable cold environment that enables the quantum stack to send and receive information to and from every qubit. Achieving this task is no simple feat; however, if Microsoft can pull it off, it will result in a highly scalable quantum computer that can support even larger, more complex applications.
While development is still ongoing for this hardware, Microsoft also offers a portfolio of quantum computers from other hardware providers as part of its Azure Quantum platform. This service provides an open development environment for researchers, businesses and developers that enables the flexibility to tune algorithms and explore today's quantum systems.
Quantum Computing Inc. (QCI) is a full-stack quantum company that claims to be committed to democratizing access to quantum value. Rather than building quantum computing services for the largest of enterprises, QCI's offerings are more affordable and can be used by non-quantum experts.
From a hardware perspective, QCI has built the Entropy Quantum Computer (EQC), which aims to create useful qubits to perform computations today rather than 10 years in the future. Organizations can use an EQC through a two-tier subscription service: Dirac-1, a qubit-based system, and Dirac-2, a qudit-based system.
QCI also offers Qatalyst, a cloud-based service that enables end users to solve problems on quantum systems without requiring complex programming knowledge. In line with this is its QUBT University, which helps users learn about quantum algorithms and how to run computations. QCI is currently developing new quantum computing chip capabilities.
In 2021, Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum announced a merger, forming Quantinuum. The merger brought together Cambridge Quantum, a developer of quantum software, and Honeywell Quantum Solutions, which builds quantum hardware based on trapped-ion technologies.
Honeywell's quantum computer, the System Model H1, has achieved the highest quantum volume measurement -- 32,768 -- in the history of quantum computing. This hardware pairs with Cambridge Quantum's software package, which applies quantum computing to solve complex problems across industries, from pharmaceuticals to specialty chemicals and beyond.
Rigetti Computing is an integrated systems company that builds quantum computers and superconducting quantum processors. Its most recent processor, the Aspen-M-3, has 80 qubits and is based on multichip technology. Its quantum processors are universal, gate-model machines.
Rigetti is currently developing a new 84-qubit processor called Ankaa, and the plan is to put four of these processors together to form a 336-qubit machine named Lyra. Its roadmap includes building an even larger machine that can support 1,000 qubits in 2025 and one with 4,000 qubits in 2027.
Users can access Rigetti's quantum computing systems through its Quantum Cloud Services platform or Amazon Braket. The cloud platform enables coders to write quantum algorithms for simulations of their quantum chips.
Xanadu Quantum Technologies is a Canada-based company that's taking a photonic approach to building quantum computers.
Xanadu's Borealis, one of the largest photonic quantum computers every built, uses photonics and quantum light sources that emit squeezed-light pulses. The Borealis features more than 216 squeezed-state qubits and is particularly effective at solving Gaussian boson sampling problems -- something that would take classical computers thousands of years to do.
Xanadu also leads the development of PennyLane, an open source software library for quantum computing and application development. Organizations can access Borealis through Xanadu Cloud or Amazon Braket.