Amazon today announced a new effort in bringing quantum computing to its cloud — at least in the long term. The company today launched the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, a new research effort that aims to push forward the science and engineering of networking quantum computers together, both for building more powerful, multi-processor networks for computation and for creating secure quantum communication networks.
In recent years, Amazon and its AWS cloud computing unit made a number of major investments in quantum computing. With Amazon Braket, the company offers developers access to quantum computers from the likes of IonQ, Oxford Quantum Circuits, Rigetti and D-Wave, as well as other software tools and simulators. In addition to that, the company is also already running two more research-centric efforts: the AWS Center for Quantum Computing in Pasadena, California, which focuses on basic science like building better qubits and error correction algorithms, and the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab, which puts an emphasis on helping enterprises prepare for the future of quantum computing.
Basically, while Braket and the Quantum Solutions Lab focus on near-term practical solutions, the Center for Quantum Computing and now the Center for Quantum Networking focus on long-term research efforts.
“To unlock the full potential of quantum devices, they need to be connected together into a quantum network, similar to the way today’s devices are connected via the internet,” the company explains in today’s announcement. “Despite not receiving the same level of attention as quantum computers, quantum networks have fascinating possible applications. One of them is enabling global communications protected by quantum key distribution with privacy and security levels not achievable using conventional encryption techniques. Quantum networks will also provide powerful and secure cloud quantum servers by connecting together and amplifying the capabilities of individual quantum processors.”
As of now, most of the research efforts around quantum networking have been at the level of start-funded research labs. Most commercial quantum computing efforts have been at the processor level (and the ecosystem around that), so it’s definitely a bit of a novelty that Amazon is now focusing on that, but now may be the time to focus on this aspect of quantum computing, especially given that quantum processing units are now starting to reach a level of maturity that would’ve been considered science fiction only a decade or two ago.