Enlarge / Unfortunately, determing quantum computing speed is not as easy as deciding on the track like ol’ Robert Kerr did for Canada at the 1908 British Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) Championships. (credit: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
When it comes to quantum computing, mostly I get excited about experimental results rather than ideas for new hardware. New devices—or new ways to implement old devices—may end up being useful, but we won’t know for sure when the results are in.
If we are to grade existing ideas by their usefulness, then adiabatic quantum computing has to be right up there, since you can use it to perform some computations now.

And at this point, adiabatic quantum computing has the best chance of getting the number of qubits up.

But qubits aren’t everything—you also need speed.
So how, exactly, do you compare speeds between quantum computers? If you begin looking into this issue, you’ll quickly learn it’s far more complicated than anyone really wanted it to be.

Even when you can compare speeds today, you also want to be able to estimate how much better you could do with an improved version of the same hardware.

This, it seems, often proves even more difficult.
It’s fast, honest
Unlike classical computing, speed itself is not so easy to define for a quantum computer.
If we just take something like D-Wave’s quantum annealer as an example, it has no system clock, and it doesn’t use gates that perform specific operations.
Instead, the whole computer goes through a continuous evolution from the state in which it was initialized to the state that, hopefully, contains the solution.

The time that takes is called the annealing time.
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