The best of IBM 2021

This year inspired some truly remarkable innovations. Discover 12 of the best.

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    ‘Eagle’ heralded a 127-qubit quantum breakthrough

    Breaking the 100-qubit barrier is more than a milestone-sounding accomplishment. It takes computing into totally uncharted territory. IBM’s new 127-qubit processor is impossible for traditional computers to simulate reliably. By doing what classical computers can’t, the massive potential — the quantum advantage, for tackling the biggest problems of our time — is clear. And awesome.

    Explore the promise of next-generation computing

    Skills training pledged for 30 million learners

    Recognizing that a lack of skilled workers is a roadblock to economic growth around the world, IBM announced a groundbreaking global plan to expand access to more than 170 new academic and industry partnerships. Through programs like P-Tech, SkillsBuild, and STEM for Girls, these partnerships will enable people from all backgrounds to join the digital economy and build a better future for themselves and society.

    Find out how IBM is closing the skills gap

    Notorious disruptor hosted ‘Smart Talks with IBM’ podcast

    Smart Talks explores new ways of approaching urgent problems in society, business and tech. The show found its voice with the help of host Malcolm Gladwell (Revisionist History), who created a space where deep thought leadership could break through the noise. Listeners heard Gladwell at his best, as he affably challenged experts to do the improbable: discuss advanced tech in relatable terms (you can explain edge computing by talking about Jamaican beef patties, it turns out). The show earned a spot on Podtrac’s Top 25 New Podcasts of 2021.

    Listen here

    IBM Research started teaching AI to write code

    A multitude of unique programming languages drives our software-supported world, and many products we use rely on a jumble of several to work properly. There may be ~100 million lines of code in the car you drive, but its anti-collision sensors use a modern code that’s too sophisticated to connect to the legacy code in your dashboard clock. To thrive, future tech will require greater interoperability. Enter Project CodeNet: it’s a vast data set in 55 programming languages aimed at teaching AI to code — and help modernize the software we live by.

    See how CodeNet will help AI-infused organizations thrive

    The launch of IBM Consulting

    With 110 years of experience navigating the intersections of business, technology and society, IBM has been a longtime partner to industry leaders. As organizations evolve their business models to stay in lockstep with consumers, IBM launched IBM Consulting. As one of the largest consulting firms in the world, these 150,000 consultants bring a diverse set of voices and technologies to enterprises everywhere. IBM consultants collaborate with clients to deliver outcomes and create opportunities by focusing on four disciplines: strategy, experience, technology and operations. 

    Let’s accelerate together

    An autonomous ship explored our oceans

    IBM and ProMare’s years of hard work and preparation came to fruition in the spring of 2021, as the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS), the world’s first fully autonomous vessel, embarked on its maiden voyage. Running on solar energy, captained by IBM AI, and equipped with automation and cloud technologies, MAS will explore the seas, going where humans rarely venture, to gather vital ocean data on pressing issues like global warming, pollution and impacts to marine life. Currently docked for repairs and upgrades, the Mayflower will set sail again in the spring of 2022.

    Watch the documentary about the journey so far

    The future of ‘zero trust’ got even more secure

    IBM acquired ReaQta, a security standout with endpoint solutions that enable AI to automatically identify and manage threats, while remaining undetectable to adversaries. The move complements the new IBM QRadar XDR suite, which grants enterprise users comprehensive visibility across security tools and data sources, and ensures that all users are continually verified before gaining access to data.

    See how QRadar is enabling a safer world for your data

    A blueprint for ethical AI was shared with the world

    We want to use AI to assist humans in making fairer choices, but that’s easier said than done. On a global scale, regulatory boards are in their infancy and there is no consensus on what counts as “ethical” AI design and use. In 2021, IBM distilled years of research into five pillars of trustworthy AI, and offered tools to assess the fairness of their advanced tech. The World Economic Forum used the company as a case study in ethical-AI development.

    See what trustworthy AI looks like

    IBM introduced a new generation of power

    As more enterprises adapt to hybrid cloud computing models, the need for agile and flexible platforms that can keep data secure is only growing. IBM announced the IBM Power E1080 server, the first in a new family of Power10-powered processors. Designed specifically for hybrid cloud environments, the server is highly secure, with 4x the encryption engines per core and bringing a frictionless, scalable experience across entire IT infrastructures. PowerE1080 offers 2.5x greater per core performance and set a new world record SAP benchmark for 8-socket systems.

    Power up with Power10

    New tools shored up defenses against COVID-19

    As year two of the pandemic threw us more curveballs, IBM continued efforts to help us venture back into the world safely, with sophisticated contact tracing, vaccine supply chain management, a Digital Health Pass for securely verifying health and vaccination status, and IBM Research papers that investigated variants, mask effectiveness, and virus spread modeling using AI and supercomputing.

    Read how Rhode Island used these solutions to manage COVID response

    IBM committed to net-zero gas emissions by 2030

    Fifty years after issuing its first formal environmental policy statement, IBM still leads the way toward a healthier planet through multiple channels, including its support of the Paris Agreement and its role as a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council. In 2021, IBM set goals to get 90% of its energy globally from renewable sources and use technologies like carbon capture to remove emissions from the environment. 

    Learn more about tech for a healthier planet

    At just 2nm, the smallest microchips in the world

    The headline read “a new frontier for semiconductors” and that was no exaggeration. The 2 nanometer chip, which fits 50 billion transistors in a space roughly the size of a fingernail, opens the door to improved capabilities for leading-edge workloads like AI and cloud computing, security and encryption. And for cell phone batteries with quadruple the staying power.

    Watch for faster devices, more accurate autonomous cars and lower carbon footprints