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On the road to quantum computing

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Kathy Gibson at Fujitsu Forum, Munich – Quantum computing has the potential to solve problems that would take millions of years in just seconds – but there are still major obstacles to getting this technology into the market.

Fujitsu has developed new technology inspired by quantum computing that can run on technology available today. The Digital Annealer is believed to be the first step on the road to commercially-available quantum computing.

“Fujitsu is a technology company, and will continue to create and deliver technologies that are world-leading,” says Tanaka Tatsuya, president of Fujitsu.

“One of these is quantum computing. In the future, we will have computers modelled on the human brain – but that will take time.”

In the meantime, Fujitsu has now brought its Digital Annealer to market, which bridges the gap between today’s general purpose computers and the future of quantum computing, explains Fujitsu’s Shingeru Sasaki.

The difference between general computing and quantum computing is that, while the traditional computer expresses 0 or 1 as two states, the quantum computer can express them in a single state.

Ths means it can solve equations that might have taken millions of years in just seconds.

“The Digital Annealer uses quantum-inspired computations using traditional technologies,” Sasaki explains. “This is a breakthrough technology for finding solutions to problems that cannot be solved by general purpose computing.”

Among the real-world applications for the Digital Annealer are new drug discoveries. Because the millions of DNA strands can now be analysed, molecular similarity searches will be possible.

“We are ready to put the Digital Annealer to practical use,” Sasaki says. “We believe this is the start of the new digital revolution.”

Co-creation is at the centre of Fujitsu’s strategy – working with partners and customers to craft solutions that truly innovate and change people’s lives and businesses.

Tatsuya cites three examples of how the company has worked with customers in the areas of sound, agriculture and sustainability.

The partnership with Yamaha, on sound intelligence, brings augmented reality and virtual reality to the music business.

On the agriculture front, three companies – Orox, Masuda Seed and Fujitsu – have launched a new agriculture company that is developing new types of kale that is more tender and easy to eat raw.

The joint company, SCIWATA (Smart Agriculture iwata), has developed the technology to reduce growing times and time to market for this new vegetable.

“This is about bringing innovation to agriculture,” Tatsuy says. “We are stepping outside the boundaries of IT, bringing our efforts into agriculture.”

Another joint venture is with Robbe’s Little Garden, which is working on ways to provide fresh vegetables year round.

“We want to bring benefit to the broader society as well,” Tatsuya says. “For example, climate change is having a major effect on people; and extreme weather is causing severe damage around the world.

“As a corporate citizen we want to address this issue head-on. We are using our technologies to reduce the impact on the environment.”

An example is the world’ smallest, most efficient 12W AC adapter that can reduce power dissipation by more than half when charging mobile devices. It won an environmental award in Japan this year.

Tatsuya explains that, with 7-billion mobile phones around the world, this AC adapter could have a massive effect if it were used to charge them.

“The carbon footprint would immediately be reduced,” Tatsuya says. “So we decided to make our intellectual property widely available around the word through a partnership with Wipo Green.”