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NASA, Google Buy $15 Million Quantum Computer from Canadian Company

Update Date: May 19, 2013 04:48 PM EDT

Google and NASA have bought a quantum computer which is 3,600 times faster than conventional computers called the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (QAIL).

The QUAIL is kept at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and staffed by Google and NASA scientists. It has become the second lab in the world to own a quantum computer. The lab will explore areas such as machine learning - making computers sort and analyse data on the basis of previous experience. 

Canadian company D-Wave Systems, which produces the super computers, has been mired with cynicism over the years from quantum computing experts. Until research outlined earlier this year, some even suggested its machines showed no evidence of using specifically quantum effects.

The new lab will be outfitted with a D-Wave Two - a 512-qubit machine that costs in the region of $15 million. Prior to QAIL taking delivery of the cryogenically cooled quantum computer, Lockheed Martin was the first and only owner of a D-Wave One in 2011, and then recently it upgraded to a D-Wave Two, according to BBC.

Google said in a blog post "Our goal: to study how quantum computing might advance machine learning." The supercomputer is useful for functions such as language translation, image searches and voice-command recognition. "We actually think quantum machine learning may provide the most creative problem-solving process under the known laws of physics," says a blog post from Google describing the deal.

D-Wave, the small company that sells the world's only commercial quantum computer, has just bagged an impressive new customer: a collaboration between Google, NASA and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association.

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