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D-Wave’s most powerful quantum computer is limited, but ready

Companies that need help solving some complicated optimization problems will be first in line to use the new 5,000-qubit D-Wave Advantage service. A more capable quantum computer is still a long way away.

D-Wave’s most powerful quantum computer is limited, but ready

The D-Wave Advantage quantum computer.

Photo: D-Wave

D-Wave is ready for early adopters of quantum computing to start using its Advantage quantum computer, which is now generally available and promises twice as much capability as its earlier quantum systems.

First announced last year, the Advantage computer claims 5,000 qubits and more than twice as much connectivity between qubits as D-Wave's 2000Q quantum computer. It will be offered through D-Wave's Leap cloud service, although the company will build systems for customers who want to run them in their own data centers if asked, said Alan Baratz, CEO of D-Wave.

"What we want to be able to do is allow our customers to solve their problems better than they are solving them today," Baratz said. "Better could be faster, it could be higher-quality solutions, it could be more cost-effectively, but we want to deliver customer advantage and customer value."

D-Wave's approach to quantum computing is somewhat controversial in this emerging field. The company's computers rely on an approach called quantum annealing, which manipulates qubits into quantum positions that can represent many more than two values, the limitation of classical computers. This approach then allows the qubits to lose their quantum state naturally and, depending on the problem it is being asked to solve, settle into their lowest-energy state. If the problem is correctly formulated, that low-energy state represents the optimal solution to the problem.

This is different from the quantum-gate approach that companies like IBM, Google, Honeywell and others are taking and which is not expected to generate production-quality systems for several years. Quantum gate computers hold qubits in a quantum state for an extended period of time while performing calculations, but it is extremely difficult to maintain that state without enormous machines and temperatures near absolute zero, challenges that have limited the production of quantum gate machines.

"A 1,000-qubit gate-based machine is going to do a lot more than a 5,000-qubit quantum annealer," said Paul Smith-Goodson, senior quantum analyst for Moor Insights and Strategy. Those 1,000-qubit machines are a long way off being ready, however, and in the meantime it will take some experimentation to determine the possibilities for D-Wave's latest machine, he said.

D-Wave's Baratz allowed that the company's customers are mostly building "preproduction" applications for the new service that are targeted at narrow parts of their business. That's partly due to performance limitations but also because quantum computing of any sort presents a steep software-development learning curve. He believes that D-Wave's approach allows customers to reap some of the performance benefits of quantum computing without having to wait for systems based around the other approach.

"There isn't a single quantum computer today that allows you to do something that you can't do classically," Baratz said. However, D-Wave's Advantage system helped Save-On Foods reduce the time it took to run an "important optimization task" from 25 hours to two minutes, the company said in a release, and Baratz believes the promise of those kinds of performance improvement will draw paying customers.

Customers can use the Advantage computer in two ways through the Leap service. They can pay $2,000 an hour to access the quantum processor or $100 an hour to access a hybrid quantum-classical computer, which combines the Advantage system alongside standard processors and graphics chips from traditional vendors.

The metaverse is coming, and Robinhood's IPO is here

Plus, what we learned from Big Tech's big quarter.

Image: Roblox

On this episode of the Source Code podcast: First, a few takeaways from another blockbuster quarter in the tech industry. Then, Janko Roettgers joins the show to discuss Big Tech's obsession with the metaverse and the platform war that seems inevitable. Finally, Ben Pimentel talks about Robinhood's IPO, and the company's crazy route to the public markets.

For more on the topics in this episode:

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

After a year and a half of living and working through a pandemic, it's no surprise that employees are sending out stress signals at record rates. According to a 2021 study by Indeed, 52% of employees today say they feel burnt out. Over half of employees report working longer hours, and a quarter say they're unable to unplug from work.

The continued swell of reported burnout is a concerning trend for employers everywhere. Not only does it harm mental health and well-being, but it can also impact absenteeism, employee retention and — between the drain on morale and high turnover — your company culture.

Crisis management is one thing, but how do you permanently lower the temperature so your teams can recover sustainably? Companies around the world are now taking larger steps to curb burnout, with industry leaders like LinkedIn, Hootsuite and Bumble shutting down their offices for a full week to allow all employees extra time off. The CEO of Okta, worried about burnout, asked all employees to email him their vacation plans in 2021.

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Stella Garber
Stella Garber is Trello's Head of Marketing. Stella has led Marketing at Trello for the last seven years from early stage startup all the way through its acquisition by Atlassian in 2017 and beyond. Stella was an early champion of remote work, having led remote teams for the last decade plus.

Facebook wants to be like Snapchat

Facebook is looking to make posts disappear, Google wants to make traffic reports more accurate, and more patents from Big Tech.

Facebook has ephemeral posts on its mind.

Image: Protocol

Welcome to another week of Big Tech patents. Google wants to make traffic reports more accurate, Amazon wants to make voice assistants more intelligent, Microsoft wants to make scheduling meetings more convenient, and a ton more.

As always, remember that the big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future

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Karyne Levy

Karyne Levy ( @karynelevy) is the West Coast editor at Protocol. Before joining Protocol, Karyne was a senior producer at Scribd, helping to create the original content program. Prior to that she was an assigning editor at NerdWallet, a senior tech editor at Business Insider, and the assistant managing editor at CNET, where she also hosted Rumor Has It for CNET TV. She lives outside San Francisco with her wife, son and lots of pets.

Protocol | China

China’s edtech crackdown isn’t what you think. Here’s why.

It's part of an attempt to fix education inequality and address a looming demographic crisis.

In the past decade, China's private tutoring market has expanded rapidly as it's been digitized and bolstered by capital.

Photo: Getty Images

Beijing's strike against the private tutoring and ed tech industry has rattled the market and led observers to try to answer one big question: What is Beijing trying to achieve?

Sweeping policy guidelines issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on July 24 and the State Council now mandate that existing private tutoring companies register as nonprofit organizations. Extracurricular tutoring companies will be banned from going public. Online tutoring agencies will be subject to regulatory approval.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

It’s soul-destroying and it uses DRM, therefore Peloton is tech

"I mean, the pedals go around if you turn off all the tech, but Peloton isn't selling a pedaling product."

Is this tech? Or is it just a bike with a screen?

Image: Peloton and Protocol

One of the breakout hits from the pandemic, besides Taylor Swift's "Folklore," has been Peloton. With upwards of 5.4 million members as of March and nearly $1.3 billion in revenue that quarter, a lot of people are turning in their gym memberships for a bike or a treadmill and a slick-looking app.

But here at Protocol, it's that slick-looking app, plus all the tech that goes into it, that matters. And that's where things got really heated during our chat this week. Is Peloton tech? Or is it just a bike with a giant tablet on it? Can all bikes be tech with a little elbow grease?

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Karyne Levy

Karyne Levy ( @karynelevy) is the West Coast editor at Protocol. Before joining Protocol, Karyne was a senior producer at Scribd, helping to create the original content program. Prior to that she was an assigning editor at NerdWallet, a senior tech editor at Business Insider, and the assistant managing editor at CNET, where she also hosted Rumor Has It for CNET TV. She lives outside San Francisco with her wife, son and lots of pets.

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