50-Qubit Quantum Computer

IBM Raises the Bar with a 50-Qubit Quantum Computer

IBM has developed a quantum computer that can handle 50 qubits per second. The computer IBM developed is still unstable, only preserving its state for 90 microseconds.



Sustainability Issue:

Category: Energy

The world generates 2.5 exabytes of data every day [0]. With the explosion of data being generated and preserved combined with billions of devices connecting to the internet, an issue the world will face is the ability to power all the machines and devices on a modern world.  Rolf Landauer calculated and demonstrated that each bit operation of a computer requires a minimum amount of energy.  With the amount of data being generated and saved, researchers are predicting the world will encounter energy issues to power all of our devices by 2040[1]. The world’s fastest computer processes 33 Petaflops per second, which consumes 17.8 megawatts[2].

  • energy requirements of computers and devices will outpace ‘reasonable’ supply
  • volume of data requiring more processing time
Technology Solution:

Traditional computers store information in the form of a 1 or 0.  As a result, traditional computers require energy and generate vast amounts of heat to perform complex calculations and operations.  IBM’s development of a 50 -qubit quantum computer is 100 million times faster and consumes less energy than traditional computers.   Quantum computers are able to store information as 1 and 0 simultaneously, vis-a-vis a feature of quantum mechanics known as superposition. The key feature of quantum computers is they can perform complicated calculations beyond the reaches of today’s computer while consuming less energy.  Today’s computers can take days and weeks to calculate factors with hundreds and thousands of digits, which consumes vast amounts of energy.  With IBM’s 50- qubit quantum computer, factors with 555 digits can be calculated within seconds.


  • Revolutionize  computer architecture
  • Development in new materials
  • Increase encryption for devices / communication networks / etc..
  • Improvement in artificial intelligence (particularly deep learning)
  • Climate models can be more complex





  • Inventors: IBM, Google, Facebook, Intel, Rigetti, etc..
  • Consumers: change the world
  • Energy companies: utilities will see lower demand as servers and server farms consume less energy
  • Telecommunication / internet companies: cryptography will be improved dramatically.
  • Researchers / scientists / physicists / climate scientists / etc.. – complex calculations will be able to be performed faster
Next steps:
  • Ongoing research – develop a stable state system (companies listed below)
  • Continue funding – Intel, IBM, Google, Facebook, Rigetti, & universities
  • IBM QX – 20 qubit cloud computing system continue to beta testing.  March 2017 rolled out python API and SDK.
  • Once stable state system is developed then likely to be deployed in large institutions  (governments/ research centers / data farms/ etc.)

Sources: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/609451/ibm-raises-the-bar-with-a-50-qubit-quantum-computer/

[0] https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2017/09/05/how-quantum-computers-will-revolutionize-artificial-intelligence-machine-learning-and-big-data/#6633a79e5609

[1] http://www.wired.co.uk/article/quantum-computing-explained

[2] https://www.theverge.com/2016/6/20/11975356/chinese-supercomputer-worlds-fastes-taihulight

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