For anybody needing an immediate dose of D-Wave news, Wired has this long, well researched article (Robert R. Tucci summarized it in visual form on his blog). It strikes a pretty objective tone, yet I find the uncritical acceptance of Scott Aaronson’s definition of quantum productivity a bit odd. As a theorist, Scott is only interested in quantum speed-up. That kind of tunnel vision is not inappropriate for his line of work, just an occupational hazard that goes with the job, but it doesn’t make for a complete picture.
Other than that, the article only has some typical minor problems with QM.
At this point, you don’t really expect a journalist to get across how gate model quantum algorithms work, and the article actually does this better than most. But the following bit is rather revealing; The writer, Clive Thompson, describes visually inspecting the D-Wave chip:
Peering in closely, I can just make out the chips, each about 3 millimeters square. The niobium wire for each qubit is only 2 microns wide, but it’s 700 microns long. If you squint very closely you can spot one: a piece of the quantum world, visible to the naked eye.
Innocuous enough quote, and most physicists wouldn’t find anything wrong with it either, but therein lies the rub. SQUIDs can be fairly large (see photo to the right).
Any superconducting coil can harbour a coherent quantum state, and they can be huge.
The idea that quantum mechanics somehow only governs the microcosm has been with us from its inception, because that’s what was experimentally accessible at the time i.e. atomic spectra. But it is a completely outdated notion.
This is something I only fully came to grasp after reading Carvar Maed’s brilliant little book on Collective Electrodynamics. In it, he makes a very compelling case that we are due for another paradigm change. To me, the latter means dusting off some of Schrödinger’s original wave mechanics ideas. If we were to describe a simple quantum algorithm using that picture, there’s a much better chance to give non-physicists an idea of how these computation schemes work.