Investing in Novel Computing Featured Pattern: P1206 May 2018

Author: Sean R. Barulich (Send us feedback.)

Chip manufacturers, tech firms, and governments are investing in the research and development of cutting-edge computing technologies.

Abstracts in this Pattern:

Companies are expressing the need for more computing power to enable technological advancements in nearly every industry, which will enable an increasing number of applications. For example, while speaking at the annual World Economic Forum (Cologny, Switzerland) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2018, Microsoft (Redmond, Washington) CEO Satya Nadella claimed that improvements in computing power and new computing technologies are necessary to solve some of the world's most difficult problems. In addition, Nadella mentioned that quantum computing will be an enabler of artificial intelligence (AI). Some tech firms have already taken steps to develop such new computing technologies. For example, Google (Alphabet; Mountain View, California), IBM (Armonk, New York), and Intel Corporation (Santa Clara, California) are all developing advanced quantum-computing hardware that has a greater number of qubits than previous hardware has. Qubits are the quantum analogue of traditional computing's bits, but creating large numbers of qubits is difficult. IBM and Google both developed their own 50-qubit quantum chips, and Intel recently confirmed that it has produced a 49-qubit quantum chip.

Government and intergovernmental organizations are also investing in new computing technologies. For example, the European Commission recently announced the EuroHPC initiative, through which it and several EU member states will invest roughly €1 billion ($1.24 billion) in the development of high-performance computers. The European Commission plans to use the EuroHPC initiative to produce two new supercomputers in Europe that will be among the world's ten fastest. China is also investing in the development of advanced computing technologies. For example, the government of China is planning to build a $2 billion AI research park capable of accommodating 400 companies. Zhongguancun Development Group Co. (Beijing, China)—the state-owned developer of the park—"is hoping to partner with foreign universities and build a 'national-level' AI lab in the area" and aims for the park to attract companies that focus on big data, biometric technologies, cloud computing, and deep learning.

Investments in cutting-edge computing technology may give stakeholders a competitive edge in next-generation computers and related technologies.