Today’s announcement includes both a 20 qubit processor ready for use by its IBM Q clients and an operational 50 qubit prototype currently in development.
“If you look back 18 months ago, we started with 5 qubits online,” Jerry Chow, Manager of Experimental Quantum Computing team at IBM told Gizmodo.
“We’re really going hard at it.”
A quantum computer is a completely different kind of computer.
A user initializes these qubits, which is sort of like setting the weights on a weighted die, and then lets them interact via the mathematical rules of quantum mechanics.
There are certain tasks, like factoring numbers and modeling molecules, where a quantum computer would be much faster than a regular computer.