We are coming to you live from the coldest place in the known universe Well, near it anyway. What would you say if I told you that the headquarters for D-Wave – the world leader in commercial quantum computing systems – is a stone’s throw from our warehouse? And what would you say if I told you that they invited us in for a behind-the-scenes tour? Well Linus, I’d probably say that’s exactly what I was expecting, given the title and thumbnail of this video, stop wasting my time. Got it. Let’s go. Cooler Master’s 25th anniversary Edition Cosmos 2 features a unique Dual curved tempered glass side panel. Check it out now at the link below So in 2007 D-Wave introduced their first quantum processor.
Now, with only 16 qubits, it wasn’t especially powerful. But the point wasn’t whether you could or couldn’t solve the same problems with a pencil and a piece of paper. The point was that this scalable approach would allow them to ship the world’s first commercial quantum computer the D-Wave One in 2011 with 128 qubits followed by 512 1000 and 2000 cubic designs in 2013, 2015, and 2017 respectively. And adding more qubits is the key to increasing performance because the more qubits you have, the more complex the problems that you can tackle. You see quantum computing doesn’t work like classical computing with ones and zeros where you feed it a question and then it spits out an answer.
Instead a quantum processor takes all of the parameters you feed it and works on Every solution pointing you at one or two or maybe even more optimal Solutions. So they’re not perfect for everything. I don’t think there’s a single person in this building who expects Call of Duty: Black Ops 10 to run on a D-Wave mach 5 Quantum gaming rig or anything like that but for scheduling out of sports teams games over the course of a season For tackling problems like logistics climate change and Energy distribution or for conducting AI research These puppies right here have the potential to completely disrupt the existing players. So then let’s go have a look at one shall we? Now there are only a handful of customers in the world who have Actually ponied up the price of a D-Wave system including high Rollers like Lockheed Martin, Los Alamos National Lab, Google, and Nasa.
But D-Wave Themselves have a handful of their latest generation 2000 Q systems running here at their headquarters that are available through the cloud just make sure that you don’t turn off any of the ones with a delightfully Low-Tech “Online” sign zip-tied to it it might be doing very very important research. So from the outside a 2000 Q doesn’t look that different from any other compute cluster with a few black racks and when you open up door number one There’s not much at first glance to indicate that there’s anything special about it You’ll find a network switch, a UPS for battery backup, a normal server responsible for monitoring some monitoring devices that Wait a minute! seven Eight Degrees Milli Kelvin we’re going to have to get back to that later.
There’s also a second server that takes a problem and translates it into machine code using custom room temperature electronics to generate high precision analog signals that it then sends to, as we promised, just about the coldest place in the known universe The single, yes, just one chip, single code named, Washington, quantum processor at the heart of this machine, but where exactly is it? It’s not behind Door 2, or door number 3 back there you’ll find the first and second stage pumps that are used to create a vacuum around the processor to Thermally insulate it and it’s cooling system from the outside world as well as a compressor for the aforementioned cooling system, and You also won’t find it in this Barrel shaped Doodad that is actually a liquid nitrogen filter that removes impurities from the Coolant mixture of Helium-3 and Helium-4 Isotopes and is one of the things that allows D-Wave systems to run for years at a time a critical feature Given that the chip kind of locks into a certain configuration Once it’s supercooled and if you heat one of these puppies up back to room temperature it can take up to two days to cool it back down and up to four weeks to finish the the rebalancing or recalibration process.
No, no, to find the actual processor, we have to go past this first door on the left here that handles connecting the all-business racks at the front to the giant box here that was hiding in plain sight that I’ll be referring to as the “party in the back” or per D-Wave’s gentle suggestion, the “shielded enclosure”. This right here is effectively a big faraday cage and the first of sixteen layers of shielding that are designed to shield the Powerlines and preserve the integrity of the signals to and from the quantum processor to the greatest degree possible And that was a very intentional pun by the way now normally these rooms are closed and there is a series of casings on top of this apparatus here to maintain the vacuum around what is effectively the Motherboard of our quantum computer, but they had one open for maintenance today, so we’ve got to get up close and personal The thing is peppered with probes and sensors, heat exchangers, data wires, but the five big plates are really the main attraction here.
Each of them represents a different stage of the cooling system The top one gets signals from the outside world on copper wires and runs on a frosty 70 degrees Kelvin the next one down uses the same fridge and these braided copper conductors to get down to four degrees Kelvin, which is both low enough to Condense helium to a liquid and To switch over from Copper wires to the superconductor Niobium the middle plate here uses vacuum helium for to drop our signal wires to one degree Kelvin the Fourth uses Helium-3 To get us to about it to a tenth of that and the final stage uses a sophisticated Mixture of those two isotopes to drive this entire Filtering and shielding apparatus as well as the processor inside down to its typical operating temperature of about oh point zero one five degrees Kelvin damn near Absolute zero But why does it need to be so cold? Niobium already super conducts at nine Degrees, Kelvin interstellar Space is degrees Kelvin our solar system is even warmer.
We’re talking oh point zero one five degrees Kelvin well this Superconducting chip here is what’s inside there, and it’s connected via four hundred superconducting wires And this is kind of like the pins on a CPU socket and what it’s doing if it’s using Quantum mechanical effects to process information. So for that to work, these effects need to be significant enough to use them for computation, which means that the temperature needs to be well below the energy scale of those quantum effects if it wasn’t, then the data you’d get would be very very noisy, corrupted by heat related quantum effects. That’s why the colder they can get, pretty much, the better and getting even colder in the future may actually be practical. So this generation of the waste processors consumes no power and outputs no heat meaning that the 20 kilowatts of power that are required to run system is just Dedicated to the cooling system.
So unless they wanted to go colder this energy cost doesn’t change whether you’re running a hundred cubits or 2,000 cubits, that’s just the sweet spot of practicality and functionality Today and more cooling is far from the only thing on the horizon. the future’s looking bright for our neighbors here at D-Wave they don’t have a 50-Year vision yet necessarily, but in the nearer term they don’t really perceive anyone else in the space as a real competitor with a commercializable technology and with more R&D focus they think their system could be as compact as three or four racks and capable of taking on some of the hardest Neural Network problems that we face in the years to come and you know what? Sounds pretty good to me. Dollar Shave Club is kind of amazing you can get their high quality blades and they’re amazing shave butter, which goes on clear, delivered to your door for less than what you’d pay to have to actually get off your own butt to drive to the store, fight with someone to open up the security cage, and buy razor blades there.
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