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Move over Watson, IBM unveils its most powerful computers ever

IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty delivers a keynote address at CES 2016 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images
IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty delivers a keynote address at CES 2016 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

IBM said it has successfully tested its two most powerful quantum computers ever with both holding processing power far in excess of its famous Watson infrastructure.

Thanks to the more flexible way it can store data, a quantum computer processes faster and uses much less energy than a classical computer.

The processing power of a quantum computer is measured in "qubits" and IBM claim they will soon have computers that are ten times as powerful as their machine in use today.

"The significant engineering improvements announced today will allow IBM to scale future processors to include 50 or more qubits, and demonstrate computational capabilities beyond today's classical computing systems," said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research and Hybrid Cloud, in a press release Wednesday

Krishna added that while technologies that currently run on classical computers such as "Watson" can help find patterns and insights buried in data, quantum computers can deliver solutions to problems where, due to a lack of data, patterns cannot be found.

"These powerful upgrades to our quantum systems, delivered via the IBM Cloud, allow us to imagine new applications and new frontiers for discovery that are virtually unattainable using classical computers alone," he added.

The company said future applications for the quantum computers may include providing solutions for complex financial modeling, logistics, chemistry, medicine, artificial intelligence and cloud security.

Attendees visit the Watson display that the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder's Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 2, 2015.
Lacy O'Toole | CNBC
Attendees visit the Watson display that the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder's Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 2, 2015.

IBM first opened public access to its quantum processors a year ago as a resource for university classrooms and to aid the scientific community.

Since last summer, the 5 qubit Quantum Experience machine has run more than 300,000 experiments.

Today IBM announced the release of a 16 and 17 quibit quantum computer with the former accessible for developers, programmers and researchers to run quantum algorithms and experiments.

The latter is described as a new prototype of a commercial processor and will be made available on the IBM cloud.

"IBM's first prototype commercial processor holds 17 qubits and leverages significant materials, device, and architecture improvements to make it the most powerful quantum processor created to date by IBM," said the company.