Quantum computing companies are racing to squeeze ever more qubits into their devices, but is this really a solid sign of progress? IBM is proposing a more holistic measure it calls “quantum volume” (QV) that it says gives a better indication of how close we are to practical devices.

Creating quantum computers that can solve real-world problems will require devices many times larger than those we have today, so it’s no surprise that announcements of processors with ever more qubits generate headlines. Google is currently leading the pack with its 72 qubit Bristlecone processor, but IBM and Intel aren’t far behind with 50 and 49, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, building a useful quantum computer is more complicated than simply adding more qubits, the building blocks used to encode information in a quantum computer (here’s an excellent refresher on how quantum computers work). How long a machine can maintain fragile…
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