back to article Big Blue's quantum rainmaker jumps to room-temp diamond quantum accelerator company

IBM's Quantum Ambassador for EMEA and Asia-Pacific – a business development role – has jumped to a little-known startup called Quantum Brilliance that believes it can bring diamond-powered quantum accelerators into conventional computers within five years. The Ambassador is Mark Mattingley-Scott, a 31-year IBMer whose role at …

  1. elkster88
    Joke

    Vapor something

    “ A process called "plasma-assisted vapor deposition" is a promising candidate to get the job done.”

    So, IBM are saying it’s essentially vaporware at the moment, got it.

  2. harmjschoonhoven

    Hm,

    The design of the 250 PetaFLOPS SKA-supercomputer was completed years ago.

  3. Ken G
    Paris Hilton

    Diamonds simultaneously are/are not a girls best friend

    And I thought component prices were bad enough, now they're going to make them from f-ing diamonds?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Diamonds simultaneously are/are not a girls best friend

      At the moment, it is uncertain if, when and where it will work.

      1. Bartholomew

        Re: Diamonds simultaneously are/are not a girls best friend

        NV center (Nitrogen-vacancy center) has a long coherence time up to milliseconds at room temperature*.

        I suspect that the breakthrough is in being able to use cheap (relative to everything else) plasma-assisted vapor deposition for mass production. Taking something that worked for a single NV center in a lab in 1997 to selling a commercial product, is a quantum leap :)

        (* see reference 8 in https://doi.org/10.1088/1367-2630/16/9/093002 )

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Diamonds simultaneously are/are not a girls best friend

        It'll work and simultaneously not work. You'll only know if it worked if you got the right answer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Diamonds simultaneously are/are not a girls best friend

          And of course, this requires you to already know the answer you were looking for, a limitation that should be required on the sales brochure if for no other reason than to see the look on the salesmans face.

          1. Ken G
            Childcatcher

            Re: Diamonds simultaneously are/are not a girls best friend

            I will know the answer I'm not looking for if I see it. Does that help?

    2. Snowy Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Diamonds simultaneously are/are not a girls best friend

      Diamonds should be cheap but artificial scarcity is maintained to keep the price high.

  4. eldakka Silver badge
    Coat

    IBM's Quantum Ambassador for EMEA and Asia-Pacific – a business development role – ... whose role at Big Blue was to get customers excited about the company's Quantum offerings

    That's a rather long-winded way of saying 'spruiker'.

  5. Bartholomew

    Diamonds are Forever

    I'm trying to think about synthetic diamonds and quantum states, but for some reason I'm picturing Blofeld's cat and hearing Ernst Stavro Blofeld say the following to James Bond "Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in."

    Maybe my mind is in a quantum flux were Schrödinger's cat is simultaneously Blofeld's cat, while not.

    1. Ken G
      Mushroom

      Re: Diamonds are Forever

      Not so bad - I always hear "No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!" when I see an ad for laser hair removal.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Meanwhile, in an Ab Fab Fabless Lab somewhere else ... Pondering on a Fundamental Matter

    "The computational bits are nuclei and we interact with electrons," Horsley explained. "Nuclei are great because they are isolated. The challenge is that they are very well isolated."

    And when they protected rather than isolated with electrons, are nuclei further energised and Almightily EMPowered with Another Worldy Energy for COSMIC Powers ....... Diabolically Simple Heavenly Help ....... To Enjoy and EMPloy in Absolutely Fabulous Fabless Applications ...... NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive Quantum Reactions ........ with Core Source Ore Smelts Supplying ..... well, ideally, Failsafe AI Secured Future Provision.

    Any attempt at coming anywhere near close to that Supply, assures one further constant Diabolically Simple Heavenly Help and Future Suppliers await and welcome your Input to Plug into All Systems Delivering Output perceived, conceived and received via urFuture Supply Chained Networks.

    A Most Attractively Engaging Conduit Realising Heroic TitanICQ Tasks. Do you know of anything similar and also freely made available ‽

    When Penultimate Goals are not dissimilar, is Energy for Future Journeys supplied to IntelAIgent Power Brokerages at an Exceptionally Prodigious Exponential Rate and to Task Masters too, and whenever they train and team as a United Stream, are results guaranteed nothing less than Practically Always Awesome.

    Which you have to admit is a bold claim to be able to make ...... and be enabled to show and prove, and further proof the Simple Advanced Program Methodology with Show Online Verification ...... Presenting Alien Information to SMARTR IntelAIgent Systems Administrations Hosting/Testing/Toasting/Invested in Brilliant Quantum Partners.

  7. JacobZ
    FAIL

    Disappointed in El Reg sub-eds

    Missed opportunity for a Quantum Leap headline.

  8. cornetman Silver badge

    When I saw this article I immediately thought of the crystals used in Stargate SG-1 in computational hardware.

    A pipe dream I know, but perhaps they knew something that we didn't?

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge
      Pirate

      I thought of the indelible, write-once ships logs from Donaldson's "Gap" series. That was rubies or diamonds, wasn't it?

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Unless your quantum computer is normalised and does not require magic infrastructure you are limited,"

    I thought magical infrastructure was the essential requirement.

    Still 5 years away.

    1. Steve Aubrey

      Timing

      Always five years away . . .

      Unsure whether to add joke icon or not. I'll stop back in five years' time and check if I was right.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Timing

        Items like quantum computers and fusion power come under something I call the Mañana Principle, if you order something or take your car for repair here in Spain and ask when it will be ready, they always reply 'mañana' (tomorrow), you go back the next day and nothing is ready, the message is again 'mañana'.

        I have seen immobile cars moldering in workshops that date back to the 50s, so I know I'm right.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I thought magical infrastructure was the essential requirement.

      Perhaps not. Scott Aaronson did an ACM TechTalk on this just last week, and the USTC group just released a new result claiming 60 qubits using the optical approach with a linear cross-entropy benchmark (LXEB, the current gold standard for establishing that there's an actual QC process happening) that's just high enough to be convincing.

      This betters USTC's result from last year by a handful of qubits, and is seven more than Google's result, though Google's used a different approach (random quantum circuit evaluation in a hybrid chip) and Google had an LXEB that was quite a bit better.

      Of course, Google's system also has to be cooled to 0.01K, so you're probably not going to be running it at home, unless you have a spare dilution fridge.

      I'm more or less a QC skeptic – more than Aaronson, who is well known for not suffering QC hype gladly. (He repeatedly punctured claims about the D-wave machine, for example.)

      But my reservations are primarily around scaling (particularly the glaring lack of practical Quantum Error Correction in any published results), manufacture, and applicability (the algorithms in BQP are limited). I used to be dubious about the feasibility of even non-practical QC systems, based on arguments (from physicists) about parameter explosion and other fundamental problems. Now Google and USTC have arguably showed quantum supremacy.1 So it looks like "fundamentally impossible" is pretty much out the window. But "not useful in practice" is still very present.

      Now, as someone else posted, nitrogen-vacancy systems do have the very nice property of long decoherence times at room temperature. But making use of them has so far been difficult (AIUI), and I am very reluctant to believe that even if diamond semiconductors solve those problems, the manufacturing issues will be addressed in a few years. That seems wildly optimistic.

      Personally, I think the chances of this startup getting anything working are small, and having something commercially available in five years ... well, I'd be keeping the CV up to date.

      1Aka quantum advantage: That is, a result which is not feasible to calculate on any conventional computer. The point of the LXEB is to demonstrate, in effect, how many of the output set are correct; since we know the problem domain and its computational complexity, we can easily calculate how fast an arbitrarily large and fast (within physical constraints) conventional computer could get a comparable result. With 50-60 qubits it doesn't take long to get to a problem size where that becomes infeasible within whatever runtime you want to choose (a day, a year, the lifetime of the universe...).

  10. Chris Evans

    What no mention of AI?

    Maybe they thought the BS detector would overload!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But will it play Crysis?

    1. Bartholomew

      It will be in superposition so yes it will and no it won't.

      To maintain superposition at all times you need to play the game while in multiple states (try California and New York), while being extremely careful not measure anything (so close your eyes to avoid looking anywhere).

  12. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Horsely said Quantum Brilliance believes it can deliver the tech needed to create diamonds capable of hosting qubits, and the tech to tickle them, within five years.

    Yeah, and we'll have electricity from nuclear fusion in ten years.

    1. TDog

      No - only 7 1/2 since it will be speeded up by desktop quantum computing. (Although the lag induced by the fibreoptic links which keep the desktop boxes safe from the 20 Tesla + fields in the (fill in your preferred containment shape here) may slow things down a bit.

      Of course if "spooky action at a distance" (TM Albert Einstein) can be involved then forget the fibreoptic issue.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      we'll have electricity from nuclear fusion in ten years.

      actually that could theretically be done NOW but the efficiency and reliability would really SUCK

      (stupid 2nd law of thermodynamics, stupid limitations of construction materials)

      so you wanted to say PRACTICAL electricity being generated by nuclear fusion, I think.

      (PRACTICAL fusion may happen whenever scientists stop RESEARCHING and start GETTING PRODUCT TO MARKET - good luck with THAT, yeah, especially if you're paid to RESEARCH and NOT develop a marketable product)

      As for quantum computing, I still have NOT figured out how it could be used in actual practice. Are we using entangled q-bits to transmit data instantly so we can clock at zillions of Hz or ?? or is it like a 'maybe gate' that hopefully collapses into the correct solution once its quantum state is known...

      (I have read a number of documents regarding the creation of qbits, but very little on practical algorithms that can actually USE them, and of course they don't seem to live very long and so you'll always be creating more, in VERY large numbers)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Uses for quantum computers

        Shor's factoring algorithm is supposed to reduce the time to factor large numbers. Database search is also supposed to be quicker. The third category of problems which QC helps with is the simulation of quantum-mechanical systems. This has applications in drug discovery and development (such as how a drug fits into a receptor site).

        Those interested in these areas tend to have a lot of money. Hence the research interest.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Uses for quantum computers

          Grover's Algorithm is often described as "database search", but that doesn't mean QC will magically make your SQL SELECTs faster. What Grover's actually does is: Given a function that takes a bit string and returns {0,1}, Grover's will find an input that returns 1 with probability 0.5 by examining N1/2 candidates.

          So if you define the function as taking "the parameters of the thing I'm searching for and its index" and the result 1 as "yes, this is the thing I'm searching for", and you keep running Grover's until you get a correct result, then on average you only have to run it twice and examine 2 * \sqrt N to find the thing you're looking for.

          Similarly, you can use it to find the key for a symmetric encryption algorithm as long as you have a good oracle for testing candidate keys (e.g. a known plaintext prefix). There are various other applications.

          But it only gives a quadratic speedup, and it's useful for unstructured search of the domain. For "databases" in the common sense, we already have O(lg N) indices, so a quadratic speedup is worse (much worse if N is large, obviously). And for breaking symmetric keys, even if your QC is as fast as the fastest conventional computer (which it will not be), doubling the key length kills the quantum advantage.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You just need someone with an infinite supply of money and willingness to ignore risk to commercialise it.

        Eloi Musky perhaps?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, care to back that last claim up Simon? :)

    While if they can get a 2 qubit test device running, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre will probably be interested, it is extremely unlikely to have any part in their S.K.A. data analysis.

    It may be of academic interest to see how future generations of quantum computer could be applied to signal processing, but "possible" may need some clarification or support. Or, more simply, downgrade the forecast of "possibility" to somewhere on the fanciful imaginings part of the axis closer to "not bloody likely"

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Wow, care to back that last claim up Simon? :)

      Yeah, I'm not thinking offhand of an algorithm in BQP which would be useful here. This isn't my area, but "QC will not help with this problem" is often a safe assumption.

      A PCI QC add-on card, even if it provides, say, a hundred reliable effective qubits ("effective" because you will almost certainly need a great many more for error correction), will still have pretty limited applications. Small quantum simulations. Cryptographically-secure random bits (if you can figure out a legitimate real-world application for them1). Breaking small encryption keys and hashes – but 100 qubits is too small for anything in common use that can't already be brute-forced with reasonable resources.

      1Arguably there are a number of applications for crypto-secure randomness, such as cryptocurrency, but you have to convince other people that they need it too.

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