An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company: Today the [Berkeley-based startup Rigetti] launched a project in the mold of Amazon Web Services (AWS) called Quantum Cloud Services. "What this platform achieves for the very first time is an integrated computing system that is the first quantum cloud services architecture," says Chad Rigetti, founder and CEO of his namesake company. The dozen initial users Rigetti has announced include biotech and chemistry companies harnessing quantum technology to study complex molecules in order to develop new drugs. The particular operations that the quantum end of the system can do, while still limited and error-prone, are nearly good enough to boost the performance of traditional computers beyond what they could do on their own -- a coming milestone called quantum advantage. "My guess is this could happen anytime from six to 36 months out," says Rigetti. So-called hybrid algorithms leveraging both systems are able to spot and correct some errors. And even imperfect results from quantum computers can be good enough in many cases, either flat-out exceeding what traditional computer technology can do, or producing results faster or cheaper. Rigetti has been playing this angle, creating a software development kit called Forest (because it's an ecosystem, says Chad) that allows programmers to access hybrid systems. Like other companies such as IBM, Rigetti has been allowing developers to access small-scale quantum computers online to essentially start working out how to program for them. [...] Rigetti is now inviting customers to apply for free access to these systems, toward the goal of developing a real-world application that achieves quantum advantage. As an extra incentive, the first to make it wins a $1 million prize.
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