As processing speeds seem to have topped out, new phone releases struggle to impress, and the internet is rebranding itself for a third time, there has to be a breaking point—a threshold that marks the next big stage in our technological development. Well, Seth Lloyd thinks he has it. It’s called Quantum Random Access Memory, or QRAM, and it can leave even the fastest SSD and hard drive memory in the dust.
Why all this talk about Quantum stuff?
Traditional computers lock-step through calculation in sequence; ones and zeros. It’s binary code and it runs everything from your financing spreadsheet to killing it on Donut County. But binary is only one gate after another; no shortcuts. And while current processors do this amazingly fast, they are pretty much at the end of their development.
Quantum computers, on the other hand, can do mind-bending maneuvers like super-positioning or entanglement which allows the processing to calculate in parallel instead of series. That’s oversimplifying it, but the potential is to have computers that can leap-frog exponentially past what today’s fastest computers can do.
The common illustration is: what a current computer can do one gate at a time—say, like read the entire contents of the Library of Congress—the Quantum computer could do all at once, simultaneously.
What QRAM is really good for
This hyper-computing makes Quantum computing particularly useful for modeling real-world scenarios that solid-state computing simply can’t do. Binary rules are too rigid for things like messy molecular models, human behavior, or environmental modeling.
Because of this quantum entanglement and super-positioning of data, QRAM is projected to open the door for better A.I., biology and genetics breakthroughs, and even more-accurate climate extrapolations. Because, after all, a quantum computer won't be much good without a Random Access Memory to match its superpowers, would it?
We are still a ways off with this being in your smartphone or driving your apps—if they ever reach that kind of use, but quantum processing has more potential than many of the other research in processing that is being done. And, quantum RAM is critical to make that commercially viable.
One thing is for certain, however: when technology catches up to quantum computing, things we can’t even imagine will become everyday opportunities for progress. In other words, we don’t yet know the questions to ask that quantum computing will be able to provide answers for.