While Google, Microsoft, IBM and others have made a lot of noise around their quantum computing efforts in recent months, AWS remained quiet. The company, after all, never had its own quantum research division. Today, though, AWS announced the preview launch of Braket (named after the common notation for quantum states), its own quantum computing service. It's not building its own quantum computer, though. Instead, it's partnering with D-Wave, IonQ and Rigetti and making their systems available through its cloud. In addition, it's also launching the AWS Center for Quantum Computing and AWS Quantum Solutions Lab.
With Braket, developers can get started on building quantum algorithms and basic applications and then test them in simulations on AWS, as well as the quantum hardware from its partners. That's a smart move on AWS's part, as it's hedging its bets without incurring the cost of trying to build a quantum computer itself. And for its partners, AWS provides them with the kind of reach that would be hard to achieve otherwise. Developers and researchers, on the other hand, get access to all of these tools through a single interface, making it easier for them to figure out what works best for them.
“By collaborating with AWS, we will be able to deliver access to our systems to a much broader market and help accelerate the growth of this emerging industry,” said Chad Rigetti, founder and CEO of Rigetti Computing .
D-Wave offered a similar statement. “D-Wave’s quantum systems and our Leap cloud environment were both purpose-built to make practical application development a reality today and, in turn, fuel real-world business advantage for our customers,” said D-Wave’s chief product officer and EVP of R&D, Alan Baratz. “Amazon’s Braket will open the door to more smart developers who will build the quantum future, and the forward-thinking executives who will transform industries.”
It's worth stressing that AWS is not installing these quantum computers in its own data centers. Instead, it's essentially offering a unified way to access the machines these companies already offer inside their own labs and data centers.
Braket provides developers with a standard, fully managed Jupyter notebook environment for exploring their algorithms. The company says it will offer plenty of pre-installed developer tools, sample algorithms and tutorials to help new users get started with both hybrid and classical quantum algorithms.
With its new Solutions Lab, AWS will also provide researchers with a solution for collaborating around this new technology. "Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab engagements are collaborative research programs that allow you to work with leading experts in quantum computing, machine learning, and high-performance computing. The programs help you research and identify the most promising applications of quantum computing for your business and get quantum ready," the company explains.
With its research center for quantum computing, Amazon is starting to do some long-term research, as well. As is so often the case with AWS, though, I think the focus here is on making the technology accessible to developers more so than on doing basic research.
“We believe that quantum computing will be a cloud-first technology and that the cloud will be the main way customers access the hardware," said Charlie Bell, senior vice president, Utility Computing Services, AWS. "With our Amazon Braket service and Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab, we’re making it easier for customers to gain experience using quantum computers and to work with experts from AWS and our partners to figure out how they can benefit from the technology. And with our AWS Center for Quantum Computing and academic partnerships, we join the effort across the scientific and industrial communities to help accelerate the promise of quantum computing.”