IonQ brings new quantum system to Azure • The Register

Quantum computing startup IonQ now has a second system available on Microsoft’s Azure Quantum cloud platform and claims it will bring quantum systems to a wider audience.

IonQ announced that its Aria system is exclusive to the Azure Quantum cloud platform. The company says this is the second IonQ system to join the Azure Quantum platform, following the launch of IonQ Harmony in late 2019 – although we must note that Azure Quantum wasn’t even available when it was released public preview until early 2021.

The Aria system was first unveiled in February of this year, but so far access has been via a private beta program, with IonQ calling it the “best performing” in the industry at the time based on standard application-focused benchmarks. President and CEO Peter Chapman said the deployment to Azure Quantum customers aligns with the company’s goal of making quantum technology accessible and affordable at scale.

“IonQ Aria’s joining of IonQ Harmony on the Azure Quantum platform ensures enterprise customers and research institutions have the choice of which quantum system is best suited to their specific needs,” he said.

Customers who want to start developing with Quantum can purchase monthly subscription access to the system through Azure Quantum. According to IonQ, they will be provided with consulting services and technical support as part of the plan.

Some early unnamed customers have already started using the system to develop algorithms that mitigate financial risks, model chemical reactions in EV batteries and improve image classification for future autonomous vehicles, the company said.

During IonQ’s Q2 earnings conference call, where the company reported better-than-expected results for the quarter, Chapman claimed that Aria is “a computer that is over 130,000 times more compute-powerful than our previous cloud offering” and that he “a record-breaking 23 algorithmic qubits.”

But here we enter the murky world of quantum benchmarks and algorithmic qubits is the performance measurement metric proposed by IonQ itself. This number represents the number of qubits in a quantum computer that can be successfully used to run a selection of application-oriented performance benchmarks developed by the Quantum Economic Development Consortium.

Of course, other quantum companies have their own benchmarks, such as CLOPSthat IBM launched last year and is supposed to measure how fast a quantum processor can execute circuits consisting of coherent quantum operations.

IonQ’s quantum technology is based on trapped ions manipulated by laser beams, rather than semiconductor-based, superconducting qubits used by many other quantum gear. It was the first pure quantum computing startup to go public last year.

The company reported revenue of $2.6 million for the second quarter of 2022, compared to $93,000 for the same quarter last year. However, it still made a net loss of $1.7 million. Nonetheless, according to The Motley Fool, the results were enough to send the company’s shares up 31 percent as they came in better than analysts had expected.

Earlier this year, IonQ faced a heavy attack in a Report by Scorpion Capital, who claimed the company lied about the capabilities of its quantum technology. The founders of IonQ answered in return claiming that Scorpion had financial incentive to devalue IonQ and that it had become a target for “questionable stock manipulation tactics”.

It’s all part of the fun and games of the quantum computing industry. ® IonQ brings new quantum system to Azure • The Register

Laura Coffey

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