Chinese startup SpinQ has unveiled a real quantum computer that can fit on a desk - and it costs less than $ 5, 000. This is a tiny fraction of the price of large quantum mainframes: by comparison, D-Wave's first commercial quantum computer cost about $ 10 million when it launched in 2011.
Despite its compact size, the SpinQ is not that light - it weighs an impressive 55 kg. It can process only two qubits (the basic unit of quantum information, the equivalent of the usual zeros and ones of the binary code - ed. Techcult). But even this gives him the ability to carry out simple quantum computations if connected to a regular computer. This allows, for example, to significantly speed up database searches.
The SpinQ apparatus relies in its work on nuclear magnetic resonance - the process of capturing molecules by a powerful magnetic field and irradiating them with radio wave pulses that change the spins of individual atoms of a substance. Each pulse gives the atoms a new state, much like switching between zero and one in a conventional computer. Changing the spin of an atom can change the spins of other nearby atoms, which makes it possible to simulate mathematical operations.
Unlike large mainframes, which use supercooled superconducting magnets, SpinQ uses permanent magnets, which are nevertheless capable of generating powerful magnetic fields. This approach to quantum computing has been around since the 1990s, when it was used to take medical imaging. However, it has its limitations, and a computer based on it will never be able to equal the capabilities of large quantum computers.