At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, IBM unveiled its first quantum computer that runs outside of its research labs, which it plans to use to deliver commercial services to customers that need to crunch large amounts of data for financial projections and other tasks. This shows how IBM, in the wake of well-publicized struggles in areas like public cloud services and Watson AI software, is focusing on the longer-term market opportunity of quantum computing, which promises to significantly boost computing power.
Quantum computers are extremely sensitive to vibration and can only operate in extremely cold temperatures. To house its quantum computer, IBM built a “nine-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass forming a sealed, airtight enclosure,“ according to a press release. If quantum computers become widely used in the business world, IBM’s hardware expertise could yield a competitive advantage.