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D-Wave says they'll have a quantum computer ready by 2008

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quantum atom

If you think about it, a computer only needs to measure the change of state to, well, compute — be it ones and zeros or the state of subatomic particles. That's why there is such interest in the development of the mythical quantum computer (think supercomputer in a teaspoon). For the most part, efforts in quantum computer development have focused on a property called entanglement. But Vancouver startup D-Wave is focusing on quantum tunneling instead and hope to exploit this to develop a quantum computer within three-years (with a prototype by close of 2006). At the heart of their "less than fully functional" quantum computer is an analogue chip which must be cooled with liquid helium to -269 °C — just 4 °C shy of absolute zero folks! However, these purpose-built semiconductors rely on existing fabrication techniques and do not need the gee-whiz guts (delicate lasers, vacuum pumps) required by other quantum computers. While cryptographers will have to wait for their dream machine, intractable problems such as the infamous traveling-salesman (optimal route among cities) and optimization of financial portfolios and traditional computer chip layouts could be quickly sorted. Don't bother raiding the kid's college fund yet 'cause D-Wave expects to sell computational services not quantum hardware.

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