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IBM and Raytheon to Team Up on Advanced Computing

Tech giants will collaborate on AI, cryptography and quantum computing.

IBM and Raytheon Technologies, two leaders of technological development, have entered into a collaboration agreement to develop advanced artificial intelligence (AI), cryptographic and quantum solutions for the aerospace, defense and intelligence industries as well as the federal government.

The companies will leverage IBM’s commercial research with Raytheon’s research and aerospace and defense expertise to tackle problems the organizations previously deemed unsolvable. AI and quantum technologies will enable aerospace and government customers to design systems more quickly and responsively, strengthen the security of their communications networks and improve decision-making processes.

“The rapid advancement of quantum computing and its exponential capabilities has spawned one of the greatest technological races in recent history—one that demands unprecedented agility and speed,” said Dario Gil, IBM senior vice president and director of research. “Our new collaboration with Raytheon Technologies will be a catalyst in advancing these state-of-the-art technologies, combining their expertise in aerospace, defense and intelligence with IBM's next-generation technologies to make discovery faster and the scope of that discovery larger than ever.”

IBM is already a powerful player in advanced computing. The company has been working on quantum computers for about a decade and has made them available to enterprises since 2016 when it shared its five-quantum bit (qubit) processor in the cloud for testing. IBM followed that up in 2019 with IBM Quantum System One, a 9-foot cube capable of managing up to 65 qubits. The company intends to unveil a 127-qubit system this year, and IBM engineers are working on a 1000+ qubit processor by 2023.

There’s a purpose to all that computing power: the more qubits, the more theoretical performance a quantum computer can deploy. This makes quantum computing ideal for resource-heavy applications, such as cryptography. But there are also unique challenges, including how long qubits can retain the quantum state needed for computing.

“Take something as fundamental as encrypted communications,” said Mark E. Russell, Raytheon Technologies chief technology officer. “As computing and quantum technologies advance, existing cybersecurity and cryptography methods are at risk of becoming vulnerable. IBM and Raytheon Technologies will now be able to collaboratively help customers maintain secure communications and defend their networks better than previously possible.”In addition to AI and quantum computing, the companies will collaborate on developing advanced cryptographic technologies to resolve some of the most complex problems that the aerospace industry and government agencies are wrestling with.

“Quantum computers are particularly good at solving critical optimization problems,” said Brad Tousley, Raytheon BBN Technologies president. “One example would be for a computer-aided design of a large system like an aircraft. Quantum computing allows for more finite analysis of something like a wing shape than ever before. Fundamental everyday processing optimization is the first problem we’d like to tackle with quantum computing.”IBM and Raytheon’s collaboration will undoubtedly have a significant impact on this emerging market and will position both companies as influential actors in the space. In fact, over the past few years, IBM has assembled an impressive roster of collaborators through its IBM Quantum Network —from other leading companies to academia to national research labs and technology startups—to push the quantum computing envelope.

It’s becoming increasingly evident that the potential of quantum computing is immense. IBM and Raytheon’s partnership is a strong indication that technology powerhouses are tuning in to the real-world applicability of the technology. As quantum computing starts shifting from theoretical lab work to the market, we can expect to see more companies turning their attention to the technology.

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