IBM is allowing cloud access to its 20-qubit quantum computer.

IBM says its 20-qubit quantum computer should be accessible as a cloud-based service by the end of the year, allowing businesses to access the power of the next-gen super-processors without paying for the hardware itself.

“We are, and always have been, focused on building technology with the potential to create value for our clients and the world,” said Dario Gil, vice president of AI and IBM Q at IBM Research.

“The ability to reliably operate several working quantum systems and putting them online was not possible just a few years ago. Now, we can scale IBM processors up to 50 qubits due to tremendous feats of science and engineering.

“These latest advances show that we are quickly making quantum systems and tools available that could offer an advantage for tackling problems outside the realm of classical machines.”

IBM earlier this year introduced QISKit, an open-source software developer kit to program and run quantum computers.

The company has now expanded QISKit to enable users to create quantum computing programs and execute them on one of IBM's real quantum processors or quantum simulators available online.

Recent additions to QISKit also include new functionality and visualisation tools for studying the state of the quantum system, integration of QISKit with the IBM Data Science Experience, a compiler that maps desired experiments onto the available hardware, and worked examples of quantum applications.

“Being able to work on IBM’s quantum hardware and have access through an open source platform like QISKit has been crucial in helping us to understand what algorithms--and real-world use cases--might be viable to run on near-term processors,” said Matt Johnson, CEO, QC Ware.

“Simulators don’t currently capture the nuances of the actual quantum hardware platforms, and nothing is more convincing for a proof-of-concept than results obtained from an actual quantum processor.”

IBM says its engineers and data scientists are working continuously on new quantum devices, and will spend the coming months trying to increase the quality of qubits, circuit connectivity, and reducing error rates when running advanced quantum algorithms.

The company also has plans to build a fully operational prototype 50-qubit processor, which would be part of the next generation of IBM Q systems.