For decades, Moore’s Law has been driving the advancement of traditional computing systems development, leading to the proliferation of smart devices at the edge and centralised cloud computing. However, we’re now reaching the limits of legacy computing technology, and the search for another high-performance computing platform has begun. Quantum computing is the next-generation.
Total revenues generated from quantum computing services will exceed $15 billion by 2028, according to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research. Most of these services will be cloud-based offerings.
Quantum computing market development
The demand for quantum computing services will be driven by some process hungry research and development projects as well as by the emergence of several applications including advanced artificial intelligence algorithms, next-generation cyber security encryption, traffic routing and scheduling, protein synthesis, and/or the design of advanced chemicals and materials.
These applications require a new processing paradigm that classical computers, bound by Moore’s law, cannot support. However, one should not expect quantum computers to displace traditional computing systems on-premises anytime soon.
Unlike classical computers, based on sequential processing principles, quantum computers leverage their strengths from two fundamental characteristics inspired from quantum physics — as an example, entanglement and superposition — which make them super powerful for undertaking certain tasks, notably inter-correlated events that need to be executed in parallel.
“Classical computing is not dead, even in the post-Moore’s law era,” said Lian Jye Su, principal analyst at ABI Research. “These machines will remain the ultimate processing power for executing traditional tasks such as text, video, speech processing, and signal processing, but will be potentially challenged by quantum machines when it comes executing algorithms that require massive parallel processing.”
Quantum computing is, however, still in its embryonic stage of development and is not ready for large-scale commercial deployment anytime in the near to mid-term. Scalability, technology stability, reliability, and cost efficiency are the major factors the industry should address before seeing quantum computers moving beyond lab projects or very restricted and constrained commercial deployment.
According to the ABI assessment, the attempts to create quantum computers that are stable and have low error rate require heavy investment in infrastructure, software development, and human expertise.
The operation is currently performed under extreme low-temperature, high magnetic field, and in a vacuum or sterile environment, making the technology extremely difficult to scale and expensive to operate.
It’s therefore not surprising that quantum computing is unlikely to achieve the distribution level of classical computers anytime within the next 10 years. The technology will remain concentrated in the cloud domain for many years to come.
“While the industry explores various hardware implementation methods by exploiting different quantum physics phenomena, they all face the harsh reality of tradeoffs, having to find the right balance between maintaining long coherence time, reducing error rates, minimizing cost, and developing scalable products,” said Su.
Outlook for quantum-as-a-service
Therefore, excessive cost and extremely restrictive physical implementation will most likely limit quantum computing technology to federal government and military agencies, as well as major enterprises and the established hyperscale cloud computing providers. That said, the technology will also be made available to the general public via an ‘as-a-service’ business model.
ABI analysts believe that the future of cloud computing will increasingly rely on parallelism as new types of sophisticated applications and algorithms emerge. The IT infrastructure industry will need to deploy more efforts to accelerate the development of quantum computers as alternatives to their classical computer counterparts.