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Six of the eight largest public cloud providers worldwide–Alibaba, Baidu, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Tencent–have been investing heavily in quantum computing research and development (R&D). AWS, by far the largest cloud provider, had been completely absent from the quantum computing discussion until this week. What happened and why?

The holy grail for cloud providers is to find a hardware solution that accelerates machine learning and artificial intelligence by orders of magnitude. There are two ways to improve machine learning at scale: build specialized architectures using today’s design tools or find a completely different path. Quantum computing is everyone’s big bet for the completely different path.

AWS has invested a lot in machine learning and AI. But innovation in AI is mostly dependent on algorithms and architecture. AI and deep learning acceleration research based on today’s state-of-the-art does not require fundamentally new hardware. It’s mostly a software and solutions architecture story.

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