What’ll it take to solve the quantum computing challenges of the future? Microsoft has an app for that — and now developers around the world can have it, too.
The app is called the Azure Quantum Resource Estimator. It’s a software tool that was originally developed for Microsoft’s internal use. The tool is already guiding the company’s effort to develop full-stack quantum computers, and now it can also help outside developers figure out how much computing power they’ll need to execute a given quantum algorithm in a reasonable amount of time.
That’s a key question, because the guidelines used for classical computing don’t necessarily apply to the quantum frontier. Unlike classical computers, quantum computers take advantage of an environment where a quantum bit — better known as a qubit — can represent a one and a zero at the same time.
Quantum approaches can be far more efficient than the standard binary computing approach for solving particular kinds of problems: optimizing a network, for example, or figuring out how to design a synthetic molecule to perform a specific chemical task.
“We’ll be able to study, for example, how to help remove harmful gases from the atmosphere,” Krysta Svore, distinguished engineer and vice president of quantum software at Microsoft, told me.
“Ten years ago, we thought it would take a billion years’ run time on a quantum computer,” Svore said. “That’s a really long time to wait. But over the last decade, we’ve been able to bring that down to a month’s run time on a quantum computer … using exactly the resource estimator, this tool, to understand the cost of the algorithm. And we’ve been able to redesign our hardware accordingly as well.”