Honeywell is working on a new quantum computing system that should be the fastest in the world. The company promises that its quantum computer, unveiled this morning, will double the performance of the most powerful quantum system in existence today.

Honeywell is currently a supplier of industrial equipment to sectors such as aerospace. In other times, however, the company competed with IBM in, for example, mainframes. So now it goes back to its computing-roots in a certain way, more specifically in quantum computing.

Quantum computers come in many different types and it is therefore difficult to compare performance. To tackle this problem, IBM has already developed a metric dubbed quantum volume, which tries to develop a standardised way of measuring speed. Honeywell says its system will have a quantum volume of 64 in three months, while the fastest quantum computer running today, a machine built by IBM, has a quantum volume of 32.

Trapped ions

Honeywell has based the system on a ‘trapped-ion’ design. In a trapped-ion quantum computer, the qubits are loaded with atomic particles in a vacuum. The quantum calculations are then carried out by manipulating these particles using lasers. Honeywell uses ytterbium atoms for the qubits, which are implemented in an ion trap the size of an american football.

According to the company, the trapped ion approach makes the system’s qubits more durable than qubits in systems developed by IBM and Google, for example. This means that they can perform calculations with less downtime, which improves overall speeds. The qubits can also work together in such a way that quantum algorithms can run faster.

Honeywell also reports that the trapped ion design is highly scalable. The company has made the bold statement that the quantum volume of the machines will improve by a factor of 10 per year over the next five years, which would translate into a factor 100,000 increase by 2025.