updated 01:10 pm EDT, Thu May 19, 2011
Carries hefty $10 million price tag
Vancouver-based D-Wave Systems claims that it is now offering the D-Wave One, the first commercially available quantum computer on the market. Unlike traditional computers, a quantum computer leverages quantum mechanics and operates on the sub-atomic level, performing calculations at speeds theoretically an order of magnitude beyond even the fastest supercomputers available today. Pricing for a D-Wave One is an estimated $10 million.
The D-Wave One is a highly specialized computational device. It does not replace other computers. Instead, it complements them, working on a specific mathematical problem: sampling and optimization. Practical applications could include financial risk analysis, bioinformatics, affinity mapping and sentiment analysis, object recognition in images, medical imaging classification, and compressed sensing.
The company has many skeptics. "D-Wave has made claims," says Anthony Leggett, a physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Nobel laureate in physics that "have not been generally regarded as substantiated in the community."
Hartmut Neven, a Google scientist disagrees says the company has taken a "very sensible approach" and has "a very good chance at getting it to work." [via Forbes]