AWS creates a quantum computing cloud with classical testbed plus rentable qubits

If you think the quantum world is confusing, wait until you see the pricing

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Amazon Web Services has fired up a cloud quantum computing service.

Dubbed “Braket”, the service is offered a learning experience rather than a full-blown production environment.

AWS has created a library of quantum algorithms it offers as a starting point, but also invites users to roll their own. Those algos can run in an on-prem simulator that AWS offers, or on the cloudy Braket simulator that is priced depending on the EC2 instance type you select. AWS suggests the cloudy option for complex algos that use 34 or more qubits.

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Once a simulation works to your satisfaction on a classical computer, AWS offers the chance to run it on quantum processors from D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigett.

Pricing for those machines starts with a $0.30 fee per task, then a fee for each “shot”.

AWS explains this all as follows:

A shot is a single execution of a quantum algorithm, such as a single pass through each stage of a complete quantum circuit on a gate-based quantum computer, or one result sample of quantum annealing problem. The per-shot pricing depends on the QPU used. The per-shot price is not affected by the number or type of gates used in a quantum circuit or the number of variables used in a quantum annealing problem.

A task is a sequence of repeated shots based on the same circuit design or annealing problem. You define how many shots you want included in a task when you submit the task to the Amazon Braket service.

And there we were thinking that quantum computing is mind-bending.

But we digress. AWS says Braket currently runs in its US East (N. Virginia), US West (N. California), and US West (Oregon) regions, with more to come in an unspecified future.

AWS is not alone in offering a quantum cloud, with both IBM and Microsoft already in-market and Google releasing quantum code for its TensorFlow AI.

Which is all very exciting, save for the fact that it’s generally agreed that useful quantum machines are years away and that when they arrive they’ll be extraordinarily expensive to acquire and operate. At least AWS is giving us a glimpse of how they might be priced in the cloud. ®

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