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The Race for Quantum Computing Supremacy

RS Components explain the role of quantum computing and discuss the race for supremacy

Quantum computers are set to help us solve humanity’s most complex challenges, which our existing computers can’t even scratch the surface of. Quantum computing applies the properties of quantum physics to process information, and is set to enable new discoveries in the areas of healthcare, energy, environmental systems, smart materials, and beyond.

Universities, researchers, and Silicon Valley companies are all entangled in quantum computing, proving there’s massive interest in the research and development of these groundbreaking machines.

In fact, just recently Google claimed to have built the first quantum computer that can carry out calculations beyond the ability of today’s most powerful supercomputers, a landmark moment that has been hotly anticipated by researchers. Google says that its 54-qubit Sycamore processor was able to perform a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years.

However it’s not just Google; IBM, Microsoft, Intel and others are all looking at how to advance the technology. But which companies are working the hardest with the most patent applications and has there been an increase in interest over the years?

RS Components have analysed over 5,000 patent applications to find out which companies are leading the way. You can view the full graphic here:

The research by RS Components found that there has been a steady increase in the number of patent applications over the past 10 years, going from 12 applications in 1998 to 558 in 2018

Microsoft is the company leading the way in patent application filings, racing ahead with 425 applications. Microsoft already has an existing ‘Quantum’ team, whose ambition is to ‘help solve some of the world’s most complex challenges through the world’s most scalable quantum system.’ In November 2019, the tech giant introduced their next step in delivering global quantum impact – Azure Quantum – a full-stack, open cloud ecosystem that will bring the benefits of quantum computing to people and organizations around the world. Users of the program will be able to learn about quantum computing through a series of tools, and write code and programmes against simulators and quantum hardware. No surprise then, that Microsoft is leading the way when it comes to quantum computing technology.

Other notable companies included in the research by RS Components include IBM, with 296 patents, Intel with 242 patent applications and Google with 125 patents.

More and more, big tech giants are working to provide broader access to quantum technology, with IBM and Amazon working to implement quantum computing as a service in their respective clouds.

But with the fast growth of the technology, there are currently not enough quantum engineers being trained to meet demand. This skills shortage has been identified as a crucial challenge, and more people will need to be trained on quantum computing technology for the industry to continue to develop at the fast rate at which it has been so far.

Therefore, there are still some formidable hurdles to overcome before quantum computers become commonplace. But with technology firms investing heavily in the field – about $1bn (£780m) to date, and with more in the pipeline – many researchers are now confident that quantum supremacy will be a landmark for computing in the not too distant future.

For more information on the race for quantum computing supremacy, please visit RS Components.