Europe has the first commercial quantum computer.

The machine, which uses 27 quantum bits for parallel computing, comes from IBM and is located at the German location of the American computer manufacturer in Ehingen near Stuttgart.

Today the machine named "IBM Q Systems One" was presented to the public in the presence of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Research Minister Anja Karlizcek and the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann.

Merkel, who was connected from Berlin, described the quantum computer as a “shining flagship” for Germany as an IT location.

For a year, IBM engineers worked on site and in America to set up the quantum computer.

Manfred Lindinger

Editor in the “Nature and Science” section.

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    When the curtain is raised, you can see a chic, airtight, 2.5 by 2.5 meter black glass box.

    All components of the actual quantum computer are neatly stowed away in a cylinder inside the box.

    The accessories that turn the quantum computer into an operable calculating machine - such as keyboard, cables, voltage sources, interfaces, data storage and the cooling system - are not visibly stowed elsewhere.

    German quantum computer in five years

    The IBM computer, which is operated under the umbrella of the Fraunhofer Society, is to be available to universities and research institutes, but above all to industry. The users will be able to access the quantum computer via a cloud, program it for their purposes and carry out corresponding calculations. The expectations are great. Because a quantum computer calculates according to the rules of quantum physics, it should be able to process many tasks faster than a conventional computer can.

    The potential applications are diverse: They range from solving complex optimization problems or modeling difficult-to-access properties of solids, liquids, gases or other many-particle systems and the processes that take place in them. Battery and material researchers or pharmacologists could determine in advance which properties would be optimal for a particular application and then tailor their materials or active ingredients accordingly. Some companies, including corporations such as BMW, Bosch and BASF, have already expressed their interest.

    The users will not get an insight into how the IBM system works exactly. The main thing now is to build up specialist expertise in Germany, said Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Because Germany, like Europe, has an urgent need to catch up when it comes to quantum computing. It is true that basic research is still a leader. But there is no company in this country that is currently able to build a quantum computer.

    To ensure that this changes and that Germany does not lose touch with the world's best, the federal government has made two billion euros available in financial resources. The declared goal is to build at least one powerful quantum computer “Made in Germany” in the next five years. The funds have since been released. Universities, research institutes and medium-sized and larger companies form research associations in order to submit joint funding applications. The projects are coordinated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

    Until there is a real German quantum computer, one will have to be content with the IBM system in Ehningen. It remains to be seen whether the computer with its 27 quantum bits is already superior to a classic supercomputer. Because for this he would have to have at least a hundred quantum bits. This does not include the quantum physical information carriers that are necessary to avoid and correct calculation errors.