Summary Of Findings
Overview of big tech’s activities in quantum
Big tech’s quantum activity is ramping up quickly
- Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, and Intel are all developing their own quantum computing hardware. Big tech companies have been behind several breakthroughs in the space.
- In July 2021, Microsoft’s venture arm took part in a $450M round to PsiQuantum—the most well-funded quantum computing startup in the world.
Cloud is a key area of quantum competition for big tech
- Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM have all launched quantum computing services on their cloud platforms.
- Startups have partnered with big tech companies to offer remote access to a broad range of quantum computers.
- Big tech forges ahead with quantum advances. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, and Intel all have ambitious quantum roadmaps.
- Expect rising qubit counts and more frequent demonstrations of commercial applications.
Watch for quantum computing to become a hot geopolitical issue, especially for US-China relations.
- Expect big tech companies, including China-based Baidu and Alibaba, to be drawn deeper into political debates.
- In the US, government efforts to rein in big tech could be countered by officials nervous about keeping up with countries racing ahead with quantum technology.
Other big tech players could join the fray.
Facebook and Apple have not announced quantum tech initiatives, but both will be monitoring the space and have business lines that could benefit from quantum computing.
THEME #1: GOOGLE IS BUILDING CUTTING-EDGE QUANTUM TECHNOLOGY
Alphabet has a software-focused quantum team called Sandbox that is dedicated to applying quantum technology to near-term enterprise use cases. Sandbox operates mostly in stealth mode; however, recent job postings and past comments from its leadership indicate that its work includes:
- Quantum sensors —There are hints that Sandbox is working on a hypersensitive magnetism-based diagnostic imaging platform, possibly an MEG system for reading brain activity, that combines quantum-based sensitivity gains (tens of thousands of times more sensitive than typical approaches) with quantum machine learning to disentangle a signal from background noise to boost sensitivity. This could allow for more precise scans or for cheaper, more flexible deployments of magnetic-based imaging devices for use beyond hospital settings, as well as improved access in lower-income countries.
- Post-quantum cryptography (PQC)—Quantum computers threaten much of the encryption used on the internet. Post-quantum cryptography will defend against this. Expect Sandbox’s work to be focused on helping enterprises transition to PQC and making Alphabet’s sprawling online services quantum-safe.
- Distributed computing —This tech allows computers to coordinate processing power and work together on problems. Sandbox’s work here may focus on integrating near-term quantum computers into distributed computing networks to boost overall capabilities. Another approach would be to use quantum optimization algorithms to help manage distributed networks more efficiently.
THEME #2: GOOGLE HAS MADE SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGHS
THEME #3: GOOGLE COULD BENEFIT FROM A QUANTUM AI RIPPLE EFFECT
THEME #1: MICROSOFT IS POSITIONING ITSELF AS AN EARLY QUANTUM CLOUD LEADER
THEME #2: MICROSOFT WANTS ITS OWN QUANTUM HARDWARE
THEME #3: MICROSOFT IS A POST-QUANTUM CRYPTOGRAPHY PIONEER
THEME #1: AMAZON SEES QUANTUM COMPUTERS AS KEY TO THE FUTURE OF AWS
THEME #2: AMAZON IS DEVELOPING ITS OWN QUANTUM HARDWARE
THEME #3: AMAZON’S CURRENT BUSINESS LINES COULD BE GIVEN A BIG BOOST BY QUANTUM COMPUTERS
THEME #1: IBM IS GOING AFTER THE FULL QUANTUM COMPUTING STACK
THEME #2: IBM POSITIONS ITSELF AS THE ESSENTIAL QUANTUM COMPUTING PARTNER FOR ENTERPRISES