Microsoft's Azure Quantum Computing Open Cloud Platform Hits Public Preview
Several years ago, Microsoft succinctly explained why it was making big investments in quantum computing
, saying the short answer is "quantum computing will change everything." The longer answer is a bit more complex, but the general takeaway is that Microsoft wants to deliver quantum computing solutions to its customers. As part of that effort, Microsoft today has made available a public preview of its Azure Quantum platform .
Microsoft pitches Azure Quantum as the "world's first full-stack, public cloud ecosystem for quantum solutions." It's a unified ecosystem that puts the power of quantum computing within reach of customers who need the kind of complex problem solving that quantum bits
—or qubits—are capable of calculating. Through a single development interface, customers can access varied tools and capabilities from several of Microsoft's hardware partners, including 1QBit, Honeywell Quantum Solutions, IonQ, Toshiba, and QCI.
"The unified Azure Quantum ecosystem will accelerate your R&D with access to diverse quantum software and hardware solutions, a network of leading quantum researchers and developers, a robust resource library, and flexible self-service or tailored development programs for customers and systems integrators," Microsoft explains.
Quantum computing is a very different animal than classical computing. In the latter, each bit has a value of one or zero. But in quantum computing, a qubit can denote difference combinations of ones and zeroes at the same time. That's the (very) short of it. Quantum computing can help crunch through highly complex simulations, even more so than the most powerful supercomputer.
It's not a cheap technology, though. Companies that want to give Azure Quantum a trial run can do so for free, for the first hour. Then pricing starts at $10 per hour for running up to five concurrent jobs for 20 hours. Costs scale as high as $900 per hour, which applies to running up to 10 concurrent jobs for FPGA simulated annealing.
"As you start on your quantum journey, you can explore at your own pace, with the peace of mind that your data is secure in the most-trusted public cloud. You pay as you go, and scale when you are ready. You have the flexibility to choose from self-service development or tailored development services with our Enterprise Acceleration Program," Microsoft says.