This software lets you dip your toes into Quantum computing for free

One thing is certain about the future of complex computing: it's going quantum. This futuristic technology has the ability to complete tasks in minutes that would take traditional computers years. It's so powerful it poses a real threat to things like passwords and crypto (opens in new tab). Experts are even warning of a quantum apocalypse (opens in new tab), due to how easily quantum computing could disrupt our conventional security standards.

For now, quantum computing is reserved mostly for those who can afford it, which doesn't tend to be individuals. Instead, it's mostly constrained to big businesses and universities conducting research using wildly powerful and expensive quantum mainframes. There are some very basic personal quantum computers you can buy (opens in new tab) but they cost more than the PC gaming setup of your dreams, and likely be half as useful to you. If you're looking to dabble in quantum, even if it's just to figure out if quantum would work for you, there aren't a lot of options.

Quantum Brilliance (opens in new tab) is a start-up out of Australia looking to make quantum more accessible to a wider range of users, without needing a dedicated quantum computer. Quantum Brilliance aims to move away from the current mainframe model to smaller quantum accelerators that can run at room temperature and without complex lasers. These are far less powerful than the 127-qubit IBM quantum monstrosity (opens in new tab), but much more manageable too. They do this using diamonds. I'm not kidding, and it's almost as magical as it sounds. 

It's actually the defect in diamond crystal's lattice composition that makes them useful. These diamonds have an extra atom of nitrogen and lack a carbon atom, which gives them a nitrogen-vacancy centre. These can be used as a qubit in quantum computing that can also be manipulated as room temperature. Though the end result isn't as whopping as a huge quantum mainframe, it's also much more manageable. This is a neat way to achieve these server-sized quantum accelerators. 

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Qristal (opens in new tab) is a freely available software development kit built on Python and C++ that should run on just about any machine. Applications developed in Qristal can run on quantum simulators for now, and will one day be put to test on the real quantum accelerators.

If you can't wait for that, the Qristal Emulator (opens in new tab) mimics these diamond quantum accelerators and can run these applications too. It gives developers the chance to test out their algorithms and can even tell them how many qubits their task would need to do a better job than their current traditional computers. This can also be run on classic hardware, cloud services or on high-end arrays. What it can achieve will depend on the hardware powering it at the time, and this gives people the chance to dip their toes in.

Qristal and its emulator are planned for a full release in 2023. For the moment, Qristal can be found here on github in Open Beta (opens in new tab). Quantum Brilliance is encouraging interested parties to join the project and test things out. If you've wanted to dip your toes into the quantum realm this is a great opportunity without needing any diamonds of your own.

Hope Corrigan
Hardware Writer

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast (opens in new tab) right here.

No, she’s not kidding.