Unlike standard bits, which represent either 0 or 1, qubits can indicate a combination of the two, using what’s called quantum superposition. This property allows quantum computers to perform certain kinds of calculations more quickly. But because qubits are finicky, scaling up is no easy task. Previously, IBM’s largest quantum processor boasted 17 qubits.
IBM also announced a 20-qubit processor that the company plans to make commercially available by the end of the year.