A company going by the moniker of D-Wave is letting it be known that they will produce the world’s first quantum computer in 2008. Quantum machines, a sci-fi staple along with nanotech, would not rely on the traditional bits that today’s computers operate with, but qubits (quantum bits), computing at the molecular level. Take a teaspoon, fill it with qubits, and you have IBM’s Deep Blue to the trillionth power. We’ll see if it happens, but if it turns out to be vaporware like Duke Nukem Forever, don’t be surprised.
Of course, these computers would have some physical drawbacks in the beginning, such as having at its heart an analogue chip which would have to be cooled with liquid helium to – 269 °C — just 4 °C shy of absolute zero. And it’s not like you’ll be playing BF2 anytime soon on one of these mofos. D-Wave expects to sell computational services, not quantum hardware, which I’m guessing in the short term would help them make back some of that R&D budget.