Last May, I had a discussion with Peter Chapman, CEO of IonQ, a start-up quantum computing company. Before coming to IonQ, Chapman worked for Amazon, where he was responsible for all the technical complexities of Amazon Prime. IonQ had accomplished a lot in the twelve months that Chapman had been at the helm, so I was looking forward to talking to him.
My biggest surprise during that discussion was that IonQ was simultaneously working on its next three generations of its trapped-ion quantum computers – 5th, 6th, and 7th generations.
In a recent follow-up with Chapman, including Chris Monroe, IonQ’s Co-founder and Chief Scientist, we discussed IonQ’s release of its 5th generation quantum hardware. Keep in mind that the 6th and 7th generations are still in development. Chapman said that each generation would be smaller and more powerful than its predecessor when released. Although he didn’t mention it, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chapman’s team hasn’t already begun work on IonQ’s 8th generation processor.
Features of IonQ’s new 5th generation quantum computer
A qubit is the fundamental unit of information in a quantum computer. A classical computer bit can only be a one or zero. A qubit can also exist as a one or zero, but when in a quantum state, it can be a superposition of both values. IonQIon says its ‘s newest quantum hardware has 32 ion qubits in its latest release, almost tripling the 11 qubits in its previous quantum computer.
Robert Niffenegger, a Ph.D. and a member of the Trapped Ion and Photonics group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, said he wasn’t surprised at the large jump in the number of qubits. ”Honestly, I think a lot of people were just holding their breath until they [IonQ] announced. They’ve published papers on