The D-Wave machine is a quantum annealer running adiabatic quantum computing algorithms. This is great for optimizing solutions to problems by quickly searching over a space and finding a minimum (or “solution”). But quantum annealing works best on problems where there are a lot of potential solutions and finding a “good enough” or “local minima” solution, making something like faster flight possible. However, quantum annealing can’t efficiently run Shor’s algorithm, which breaks common forms of modern cryptography used to protect our bank information, logins, and all web communication.
Universal gate quantum computing is much broader. A universal gate quantum computing system relies on building reliable qubits where basic quantum circuit operations, similar to the classical operations we all know, can be put together to create any sequence, running increasingly complex algorithms. Algorithms like Shor’s (to break RSA cryptography) and Grover’s (faster search) as well as the approximately 50 other quantum algorithms will also be able to run on a universal quantum computer.
This means that a universal quantum computer can be used for many more problems than a quantum annealer, but comes with its own challenges and a different design than a quantum annealer. The quantum annealer, like D-Wave, is becoming a great standard for proof of concept, but design of universal quantum computing chips for various applications and making sure that qubits are properly manufactured will be the tipping point for the quantum computing industry.
Read this article for a better understanding