Computers are an integral part of our everyday lives. It is impossible to imagine what life would be without them today. They have a central role in our modern day technological inventions, innovation and research. In recent years, there has been a surge in computing technology. Supercomputers have attained and beaten the Peta Flops mark and are heading for the exascale. Quantum technology has also seen an increase in research efforts with many aiming for quantum computers in a near future. All these make me wonder what the future of computing will be. If we follow the media and quantum computer enthusiasts, we are tempted to think the advent of quantum computers will mark the end of classical computers. But things are not that simple in reality. While classical computers have stood the test of time and undergone great technological innovations, quantum computers are still in their infancy.
To know or imagine what the future of computing will be, we have to imagine what the possible future of classical and quantum machines will be. The underlying technology of the classical computers is no news to many. But quantum technology and its underlying principle’s are still very strange concepts t the general public. However, quantum computers are generally seen as the future of computing. Will they really bring an end to classical computers? What will the future or computing be made of?
Future of classical computers
Classical computers have dominated the computing world ever since they first appeared in the 1940’s. Progress in technology has made them extremely powerful machines over time. They’ve gone from the ENIAC and Colossus to extremely powerful machines like supercomputers. Supercomputers are at the peak of classical computing performance. The future of classical computers at this time is to attain the exascale mark. Going from Peta Flops to EXASCALE will bring even more performance to the already very powerful machines. Americans, Europeans, and Chinese have all announced plans for exascale supercomputers in the near future. Classical computers still fulfill their purpose well.
According to many specialists, even the best supercomputers will be surpassed by modest quantum machines on certain computations. This may be true but that’s not happening anytime soon. Though good progress is being made, quantum computers are not around the corner. It is also generally agreed that it will take time (a long time) before quantum computers become common place. Classical computers are powerful enough to solve most of our daily problems. The extreme popularity of classical computers also lies in the fact that they have evolved to become very easy to use. This is hardly the case with quantum computers. Given the underlying complexity of quantum computers, classical computers will maintain their interface role even in the future. Also, the recently build quantum simulators run on classical computers. Thus I think classical computers will have a major role to play in the future of computing.
The future of quantum computing
In the excitement over quantum computers and what they can do, many have predicted doom for classic computers. Is it the end for classical computers as micro chips get ever smaller and Moore’s struggles? That’s a big question. Quantum computing has been attracting a lot of interest in the past few years. The possible applications of quantum machines seem limitless and many including myself are eager to see what the future of quantum computing holds. The future of computing will sure be with quantum machines. But again, we are far from that future, very far from the future in which you’ll walk into a store and buy your quantum computer. This is something thousands or even millions of people do every day with classical machines.
Given the difficulty involved in working with quantum computers, using them will not be easy. A quantum computer is a pretty delicate and complex technology. It requires a lot of expertise to work with them. Atos for example claims codes written on its Quantum Learning Machine will run on future quantum computers. This may be true but it takes some skill and knowledge in quantum technology to manipulate quantum gates and write quantum code. I can go on and on but to cut short, I don’t think the future of computing will make up for quantum computers only
The future of computing is hybrid
Classical computers are no doubt a major component of our society but for how long? Will they be part of the future of computing or will quantum machines make them obsolete? The answer is very simple, the future of computing will be a hybrid. Classical computers will still carry out the computations they can while quantum computers will carry out their own kind of computations. The are computational tasks for which we require quantum computers. The future of computing will be made of classical and quantum computers boosting each other to do more work. Though I think quantum computers will need classical computers more than the classical computers will need them.
If you think of other reasons why the future of computing should be hybrid or not, fill free to mention it in the comments.