IBM develops a Giant 1,000-qubits Quantum Computer

Above: Members of the IBM Quantum team at work. Credit: Connie Zhou for IBM

IBM announced an ambitious quantum computing roadmap that includes an array of 1,000 qubits (Qbit) quantum computer by the end of 2023. Today’s machinres consist of only a few dozen qubits. According to IBM, the number of qubits in quantum processors will double every year or two. In 2022 IBM will complete the development of a quantum processor with 400 cubits, and in 2023 it will launch a processor with 1,121 cubits to be called Condor.

IBM’s vision is very ambitious: “Our future computers will include more than a million qubits.” IBM is one of the most advanced players in quantum computing. In 2016, it was the first to offer public access to its quantum computer via the cloud. Today, IBM’s cloud provides access to more than 20 quantum computers of 5-qubits and 24-qubits. Earlier this year it launched a new 65-qubit quantum computer, which is the most powerful quantum computer to date.

“Super-fridges” for millions of qubits

IBM is using superconductors to build the new computers, due to their zero resistance at low temperatures. As part of the needed infrastructure, it will build a 10-foot-tall and 6-foot-wide super-refrigerator (to be called Goldeneye), which can accommodate arrays of 1,000 qubits. The long range goal is to build a network of interconnected “super-fridges” that together provide a computing capability of one million qubits.

These fridges keep the qubit array at a temperature close to absolute zero, in order to avoid any electromagnetic interference that may interrupt the quantum circuit. In quantum computing, the smallest radiation can destroy the computational process, thus the biggest challenge in developing a large quantum computer is the ability to preserve the quantum state of the qubits, until the computational process is completed.

Cracking the cholesterol mystery

Speaking with Techime, Nir Minerbi, CEO of the Israel-based Classiq which develops software solutions for quantum computing, explained the practical significance of IBM’s roadmap. “The very fact that a company like IBM, which does not usually release far-reaching statements, presents a detailed technological roadmap with clear goals–  increases the industry’s confidence in the future of quantum computing.”

According to Minerbi, quantum computing is a “tie-breaker” in exactly the types of problems that classical computers, and even supercomputers, have difficulty dealing with. “All the supercomputers in the world, together, will never be able to simulate a single cholesterol molecule. But a quantum computer with several hundred qubits will be able to do this, and will be able to test how different molecules react with cholesterol and to develop drugs.”

The next layer of Quantum Stack

Classiq is developing CAD solutions that will make it possible to write applications for quantum computers. “The quantum revolution consists of two things: hardware and software. Nowadays it is almost impossible to develop applications for a quantum computer, since you have to program at the logic gate level. It’s like designing a chip at the transistor level. We build the tools that allow developing applications at a higher level of abstraction. The next layer in the quantum stack.”

For Classiq, IBM’s roadmap is good news. “As computers get stronger, more companies are interested in developing applications for quantum computers. Today, the entire industry is looking at IBM’s statement. Now there is a clear horizon, and companies know that in a few years there will be quantum computers running significant algorithms. That’s why they are now starting to invest in software development and will need solutions like ours.”

QUA, A Universal Language for Quantum Computers

A new computers language called QUA may be the first standard universal language for Quantum Computing. QUA allows researchers to intuitively program even the most complex quantum programs that are tightly integrated with classical processing and real-time decision-making. It was developed by Quantum Machines from Tel Aviv, whose prime activity is building a complete hardware and software solution for the control and operation of quantum computers.

A primary challengetoday is that every quantum computer has its own unique hardware. The unique nature of every system results in teams spending big amounts of time coding and programming new programs and algorithms. QUA is a pulse-level programming language for quantum devices, aimed to be a universal quantum computing software abstraction layer, suitable for all. To achieve this, several different criteria had to be fulfilled: semantical, technological, commercial and qubit agnostic.

From a semantic perspective, QUA combines universal quantum operations at the pulse-level, together with universal classical operations, namely, Turing-complete classical processing and comprehensive control-flow such as used in classical standard computers. QUA is relying on QM’s proprietary compiler, XQP, to do the heavy lifting for optimizing the many entangled quantum and classical operations. XQP compiles quantum programs to QM’s Pulse Processor assembly language which can then run them. Finally, QUA is qubit agnostic and supports all quantum processors.

$17.5M ivestment round

Used as part of Quantum Machines’ existing Quantum Orchestration Platform, QUA is a universal language. The company announced that its beta version has already been adopted by leading teams in multinational organisations, startups, national-labs, and academic institutions that develop quantum computers. “QUA is the first-ever programming language designed with the needs of quantum research in mind and offers teams a powerful and intuitive language designed not only for their present needs but also those of the future,” said Itamar Sivan, CEO of Quantum Machines.

QM was founded in 2018 by Drs. Itamar SivanYonatan Cohen and Nissim Ofek, three physics Ph.Ds from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. The QM team has since grown to nearly 30 employees — more than half of them physicists. In March 2020 it has secured $17.5M ivestment, led by the Israeli entrepreneur Avigdor Willenz, who sold Habana Labs to Intel in 2019 for $2 billion.

“The race to commercial quantum computers is one of the most exciting technological challenges of our generation,” said Willenz. “Our goal at QM is to make this happen faster than anticipated, and establish ourselves as an essential player in this emerging industry.”

Avidgor Willenz led the funding of Quantum Machines

Israeli entrepreneur Avigdor Willenz, who recently sold Habana Labs to Intel for approximately $2 billion, led the recent funding for the Tel Aviv based Quantum Computing startup, Quantum Machines. The company announced that it has secured $17.5M in funding to accelerate the already rapid adoption of the company’s Quantum Orchestration Platform.

Quantum Machines (QM) has developed a complete hardware and software solution for the control and operation of quantum computers. Its Quantum Orchestration Platform (OPX) works with all quantum technologies, giving researchers and development teams everything they need to run the most complex quantum algorithms and experiments. It lays the ground for tackling some of the most challenging hurdles facing quantum computing, such as complex multi-qubit calibrations, quantum-error-correction, and scaling up to many hundreds of qubits.

Willenz (photo above) said that he had decided to back QM after the massive enthusiasm he’s witnessed from across the quantum computing industry. “The race to commercial quantum computers is one of the most exciting technological challenges of our generation,” said Willenz. “Our goal at QM is to make this happen faster than anticipated, and establish ourselves as an essential player in this industry.”

Quantum Machines' Quantum Orchestration Platform (OPX)
Quantum Machines’ Quantum Orchestration Platform (OPX)

QM was founded in 2018 by Drs. Itamar SivanYonatan Cohen and Nissim Ofek, three physics Ph.Ds who met at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. Today the QM team has grown to nearly 30 employees, about half of them are physicists. The company said its Orchestration Platform has already been adopted by multinational corporations and startups. In January, 2020 the company had joinedthe IBM’s Q Network. As part of the collaboration, a compiler between IBM’s quantum computing programming languages, and those of QM will be developed.

The IBM Q Network brings together startups, research labs and Fortune 500 companies including, the University of Oxford, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ExxonMobil, Accenture and others, together with IBM scientists and engineers. IBM Q Network members have access to IBM’s quantum expertise and resources, open source Qiskit software and developer tools, and cloud-based access to the IBM Quantum Computation Center, which now includes 15 computers, including a 53-qubit system.