MIC: Stepping-stone to Quantum Computing?

I was reading Quantum Computing for Computer Scientists by Noson S. Yanofsky and Mirco A. Mannucci while I was on the treadmill last night. I started out reading the description of Shor's algorithm (for factoring integers) and thought that implementing this on a classical computer (in parallel, of course) would make an interesting problem for the Intel Threading Challenge contest.

But what really caught my imagination was the first section of Chapter 7, "Programming Languages," that briefly described the Quantum Random Access Machine (QRAM) model of quantum computation. In addition to the few paragraphs that were devoted to this model, there was a picture that showed the relationship of a classic computer to a quantum computing device. Each part was simply a box with data/instructions passed from the classic to the quantum and data (results) passed from quantum to the classic side.

This setup looked familiar and it came to me during my cool down: this is how a system equipped with MIC would work. That is, your Intel Core processor does some initial computation to set up data, the data is passed over to the MIC (along with the computation instructions to be executed), and the results from the MIC can be returned to the Core side for use.

I know that MIC processors (and other GPU-like devices) don't have the same computational power as a quantum processor could have. However, the data-parallel and SIMD execution modes are similar to how a quantum device could take a superposition of all potential input data and execute a single computation step to arrive at a measurable result. This similarity got me thinking that MIC devices could be the first steps taken by the industry to better understand, prepare for and program effective quantum computations.

I don't know if we will ever see commodity quantum computation devices. I doubt they'll be developed within my lifetime, at least. Even so, I am nothing short of astounded when I look back at how far computer technology has come since I wrote my first COBOL program on an IBM mainframe. 

Knowing I should "never say never," how about on the day after I get my qPad™ quantum tablet device, I come back and comment on this blog post to say I was mistaken about how quickly quantum computation entered our lives? If it's anywhere in the cloud-o-sphere (and you know once these bits get pushed out, they never go away), I'll find it with the qSearch app, which will be based on the algorithm outlined in section 6.4 of Yanofsky's and Mannucci's book.

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