Unlike the buzz on IoT, Wearables, and 3D printing, quantum computing has not got that much attention yet. It’s probably because of the complex nature of this technology—you need to have basic knowledge of physic theory on quantum to understanding essence and capability of quantum computing. Although it is still in preliminary stage, the extraordinary potential of quantum computing might be the game changer for the technology field.
The current computer works on one problem at a time in sequence. Information is stored in bits, which is constrained to be either 0 or 1 at any given time. Quantum computing, on the other hand, uses qubits, which can be a 1 or a 0 or both at the same time. This special feature, along with quantum entanglement and quantum tunneling, enable quantum computers to consider all the possible combination simultaneously. As a result, quantum computing can process giant amount of data in a fraction of the time that current computer system will need to do. It is estimated that quantum computing will be millions times more powerful than today’s fastest supercomputers.
The super power in calculation makes quantum computing on the list of strategic investment for IT giants, such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft as well as different governments. One important application for quantum computing is in cyber security. The security system for all current computers is very easy for quantum computer to crack with its powerful calculation capability. Imagine what will happen if a company or a government gets a quantum computer before anyone else. The balance of politics and power will change.
Another area where quantum computing is useful is the data processing. Being able to handle multiple calculations at one time allow a quantum computer to handle data generated by IoT devices, Wearables and Machine to Machine communications in a much faster fashion than existing computer systems. This feature could be the game changer in information technology industry because data processing will be the key to those smart technologies in the coming years.
Any new technology will have challenges in the early stage, and this is true for quantum computing. Since the calculations takes places at the quantum level, slightest interference will disrupt the process and create errors. The instability is critical, because any mistake in calculation could cause serious damages in real life. The current widely used solution is to operate the quantum computing system in temperature approaching absolute zero, which makes quantum computing extremely expensive to build. If we look the price and volume of the first computer a few decades ago with what we have in market today, we will find strong reasons to believe it is possible that quantum computing will be available for consumers.
What does this mean for electronic component industry?
Well, that’s a difficult question to answer as quantum computing is still in early stage. But we shall start to ask some questions for the quantum computing: will there still be a PCB board? How about transistor and connector? What kind of sensor is needed? Do we still need to use memory chips (DDR2, DDR3 or SDRAM) for quantum computer? And what kind of new components will be designed specifically for quantum computer?