D-Wave Launches Prototype of its Next-Gen Annealing Quantum Computer
The SPAC is not going well.
A cropped view of the Zephyr topology with one representative qubit (black dot) connected to orthogonal qubits by 16 internal couplers (green lines) and to similarly aligned qubits by two external couplers (blue lines) and two odd couplers (red lines). Image Credits: D-Wave Systems Inc.
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D-Wave Systems Inc. is the third Quantum computing startup to go the SPAC route after IonQ and Rigetti and are now playing catch-up in some domains. They were once considered a Canadian pioneer and an early-mover.
On June 16th, 2022 they did PR about being the one to have the “first prototype”, apparently the only company building both quantum annealing and gate-based quantum computers, announcing that it is showcasing an experimental prototype of the next-generation Advantage2 annealing quantum computer in the Leap quantum cloud service. The quantum prototype is available for use today.
While I can respect Canadian Quantum computing startups, the things I am seeing from them are not so convincing. I’m more on the side of PsiQuantum and IonQ at this point.
This is not the full system, which will feature 7,000 qubits when it launches in 2023 or 2024, but a small 500+ qubit version that is meant to showcase the company's new qubit design and its Zephyr topology (PDF) with 20-way inter-qubit connectivity.
It’s getting a bit hard to distinguish the hype from the quality in this field, with more startups now making big promises.
The Advantage2 prototype is designed to share what we’re learning and gain feedback from the community as we continue to build towards the full Advantage2 system," said Emile Hoskinson, director, Quantum Annealing Products, D-Wave.
They even had an article in the Financial Post.
Yet this is probably one of the worst time in history for a SPAC to finally go public in terms of the market with an interest rate-hikes. You can only assume some startups will go out of business.
Famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote in 2011 that software would eat the world. About ten years later there’s a big ah-ha moment when we realize what Quantum will do to revolutionize machine learning. From speech-recognition, finance algorithms, optimizing supply-chains, to the advent of the Metaverse, this is going to be a bit of a big deal.
McKinsey & Company claims that the still-nascent field has the potential to create $80 billion in new revenue for businesses across industries. That’s an interesting prospective future for a nascent industry that still needs to scale working machines.
D-Wave goes on to state:
"Our current Advantage quantum computer was completely re-engineered from the ground up. With Advantage2, we’re pushing that envelope again -- demonstrating that connectivity and reduction in noise will be a delivery vehicle for even greater performance once the full system is available. The Advantage2 prototype is an opportunity for us to share our excitement and give a sneak peek into the future for customers bringing quantum into their applications."
I’m highly uncertain about the commercial viability of the products of D-wave, call me bearish on this startup. This is from the due diligence I have done over the past few months on the quantum computing landscape of innovation and companies most likely to turn a profit.
The first practical demonstrators of quantum computers have fueled speculation about the future impact this emerging technology will have for both scientific discovery and commercial exploitation. You might argue there’s room for dozens if not hundreds of startups, given the VC and Government funds going into the field.
However the PR and marketing of some companies is somewhat over-ambitious. This experimental machine will be accessible from D-Wave's Leap online service, we're told. We first learned of the experimental system last year when the biz revealed its Clarity Roadmap, which includes plans for a gate-model quantum system. D-wave if anything, is ambitious.
The Advantage2 prototype has 500+ qubits, woven together in the new Zephyr topology with 20-way inter-qubit connectivity and enabled by an innovative new qubit design. Read more about it on their blog here.
What is Advantage2
Advantage2 sports D-Wave's latest topology and qubit design that apparently increases connectivity and aims to deliver greater performance by reducing noise.
The Advantage2 prototype represents a version of the upcoming full-scale product with all core functionality available for testing. In early benchmarks, the reduced scale system demonstrates more compact embeddings; an increased energy scale, lowering error rates; and improved solution quality and increased probability of finding optimal solutions.
While the full Advantage2 annealing computer is expected to feature 7,000 qubits and is slated for availability sometime during 2023-2024, the cloud-hosted prototype has been built with about 500 qubits.
For every quantum startup that fails, the ones who are the eventual winners have a massive commercial opportunity to the pressure to innovate is really hitting its peak around 2023.
Using the Zephyr topology, every qubit will be connected to 20 other qubits, up from 15 in its predecessor, the Pegasus family, which the current 5,000-qubit Advantage system uses.
Quantum startups are bold and are trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors. They are claiming a lot of “firsts”, but how much is marketing fluff and how much is real, that will remain to be seen.
D-wave have literally been builders for the last 15 years and not many startups can say that today in the space. They have $256 million in funding to date, and what do they have to show for it? Their SPAC will give them an additional US$ 340 million. I will be following all the Quantum stocks very closely. I’m pretty amazed to see IonQ still holding up at the $5 mark, given higher interest rates will hurt technology stocks, especially in more speculative fields. Rigetti is at a similar price point.
By making this new Advantage2 prototype available, the company argues, developers can start testing all of the core functionalities of the full-scale model. This makes a lot of sense.
While I wish D-Wave the best, I no longer believe they are among the top tier of Quantum startups. This is just my personal opinion as a startup analyst and of course is extremely limited due to my laymen level knowledge. What do you think?
I know in Canada firms in BC had a lot of hype along a spectrum of speculative fields including VR, Cannabis and so forth. I don’t expect the recession and QT to allow them much leeway for error.
Many of us have never been so excited about the future of quantum computing and the niche startups, architectures and competing approaches is truly fascinating.
So will Advantage2 in Cloud revenues take off in 2022 or 2023? We’ll be watching.
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