D-Wave announces Leap 2, its cloud service for quantum computing applications

D-Wave Systems today announced Leap 2, a new version of its quantum cloud service for building and deploying quantum computing applications. Leap 2 is designed to help businesses and developers transition from quantum exploration to quantum production. D-Wave also promised that Advantage, its next-generation quantum system, will be available via Leap 2 this year.

Binary digits (bits) are the basic units of information in classical computing, while quantum bits (qubits) make up quantum computing. Bits are always in a state of 0 or 1, while qubits can be in a state of 0, 1, or a superposition of the two. Quantum computing leverages qubits to perform computations that would be much more difficult for a classical computer. Based in Burnaby, Canada, D-Wave has been developing its own quantum computers that use quantum annealing. In October 2018, D-Wave launched Leap, letting developers run their open source applications on its quantum computers.

At the time, D-Wave had about 80 customer applications built on its quantum processors. That number has more than doubled today to over 200. Applications so far have spanned protein folding, financial modeling, machine learning, materials science, and logistics. The company says it gleaned insights from the usage of thousands of users over the past 18 months to build Leap 2.

D-Wave Leap 2 features and pricing

On top of real-time access to a D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer, Leap 2 includes three main features:

  • Hybrid solver service: A managed cloud-based service allowing users to solve large and complex problems of up to 10,000 variables. Users do not need to list complex parameters. The solver automatically runs problems on a collection of quantum and classical cloud resources, using D-Wave’s algorithms to decide the best way to solve a problem.
  • Problem inspector: Allows more advanced quantum developers to visually see how their problems map onto the quantum processing unit (QPU). By showing the logical and embedded structure of a problem, the inspector displays the solutions returned from the QPU and provides alerts that allow developers to improve their results.
  • Integrated Developer Environment (IDE): A prebuilt, ready-to-code environment in the cloud for quantum hybrid Python development. The Leap IDE has the latest Ocean SDK set up and configured and includes the problem inspector and Python debugging tools. Seamless GitHub integration means developers can easily access the latest examples and contribute to the Ocean tools from within the IDE.

When D-Wave launched the first version of Leap, the company priced access starting at $2,000 per hour of QPU time per month. Leap 2 is a bit more flexible in that users can upgrade their account for additional time in customizable blocks of Leap “units” for different skill and investment levels. The units can be used for both the QPU and the hybrid solver service:

When you sign up for Leap 2, you get a free minute of direct quantum computing access time, which is equivalent to running between 400 and 4,000 problems. Leap 2 also includes 20 minutes of free access to quantum-classical hybrid solvers.

Doubling down on cloud

D-Wave was the first company to sell commercial quantum computers and claims it was the first to give developers real-time access to live quantum processors. Other companies, including tech giants like IBM, offer their own cloud services for their quantum computers.

Late last year, major cloud providers Amazon and Microsoft announced plans to join the fray alongside single hardware providers. In November, Microsoft announced Azure Quantum, a cloud service that lets businesses and developers tap into quantum hardware providers Honeywell, IonQ, or QCI. In December, AWS announced Amazon Braket, a cloud service that lets businesses and developers tap into quantum hardware providers D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti.

The impact of major cloud providers entering the quantum computing market remains to be seen. For now, quantum computing providers like D-Wave plan to keep expanding their first-party cloud services while playing ball with the giants. We’ll know soon enough if newer quantum computing players will develop their own cloud services or end up relying on the likes of Amazon and Microsoft.

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