Over the next 20 years, the potential of quantum computing could lead to a development boom in chip and hardware design similar to what Silicon Valley experienced in the 1980s. Following Moore's Law, and then shrinking by another factor of 10 from the leading-edge processors of today, quantum-based transistors will be so small that "you cross into a quantum mechanical regime of operation--there's no precedent for that," says Bernard Meyerson, IBM's vice president of innovation.
IBM researchers have studied quantum theory for years, and recently have experimented with the concepts, says Bill Gallagher, IBM's senior manager of quantum computing. "It's one of our most significant fundamental research projects now, and may be one of the largest fundamental ones," Gallagher says.
Quantum computers could provide a big boost to technologies that are problematic for conventional computers, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and logistics. Some researchers are worried that quantum computers could be able to break cryptographic protection, but Security Innovation has developed a public key algorithm, NTRUSignTM, that the company claims is resistant to quantum computing attacks.
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