Google and NASA first announced their collaboration on the D-Wave quantum computer back in 2013
The US technology firm believes it has unearthed a quantum algorithm that solves problems 100 million times faster than a conventional computer chip.
That means number-crunching and problems that would previously have taken years for a computer to work-out – will now take seconds to complete.
Google Director of Engineering Hartmut Neven said: “For a specific, carefully crafted proof-of-concept problem we achieve a 100-million-fold speed-up.
“We found that for problem instances involving nearly 1,000 binary variables, quantum annealing significantly outperforms its classical counterpart, simulated annealing.
“This is a method designed to emulate the behaviour of quantum systems, but it runs on conventional processors.
“While the scaling with size between these two methods is comparable, they are again separated by a large factor sometimes as high as 108.”
In plain English, “quantum annealing” is the process of working out the most efficient course of action to complete a task from a number of different options.
According to Google, the D-Wave quantum computer has achieved a 100-million-fold speed-up
As a result, the D-Wave is now believed to be the world’s first functional quantum computer
The D-Wave is now believed to be the world’s first functional quantum computer.
If confirmed, the staggering computing power could not only lead to sophisticated artificial intelligence but speed up the NASA space program by decades.
Unfortunately the eye-watering speed of the D-Wave quantum computer is not universal – but limited to “certain hard optimisation problems.”
Speeds achieved by the new algorithm for quantum annealing, according to Google and NASA
“This is 108 times faster than some specific classical algorithm on problems designed to be very hard for that algorithm but easy for D-Wave.”
Google Director of Engineering Mr Neven admits that other existing algorithms can currently beat D-wave.
But Google sons expects its rivals’ methods to “soon become ineffective.”