subscribe: Daily Newsletter

 

New upgrades for IBM’s quantum systems

0 comments

IBM has announced two significant quantum processor upgrades for its IBM Q early-access commercial systems.
These upgrades represent rapid advances in quantum hardware as IBM continues to drive progress across the entire quantum computing technology stack, with focus on systems, software, applications and enablement.
The first IBM Q systems available online to clients will have a 20 qubit processor, featuring improvements in superconducting qubit design, connectivity and packaging. Coherence times (the amount of time available to perform quantum computations) lead the field with an average value of 90 microseconds, and allow high-fidelity quantum operations.
IBM has also successfully built and measured an operational prototype 50 qubit processor with similar performance metrics. This new processor expands upon the 20 qubit architecture and will be made available in the next generation IBM Q systems.
Clients will have online access to the computing power of the first IBM Q systems by the end of 2017, with a series of planned upgrades during 2018. IBM is focused on making available advanced, scalable universal quantum computing systems to clients to explore practical applications. The latest hardware advances are a result of three generations of development since IBM first launched a working quantum computer online for anyone to freely access in May 2016. Within 18 months, IBM has brought online a 5 and 16 qubit system for public access through theIBM Q experience and developed the world’s most advanced public quantum computing ecosystem.
“We are, and always have been, focused on building technology with the potential to create value for our clients and the world,” says Dario Gil, vice-president of AI and IBM Q, IBM Research. “The ability to reliably operate several working quantum systems and putting them online was not possible just a few years ago. Now, we can scale IBM processors up to 50 qubits due to tremendous feats of science and engineering. These latest advances show that we are quickly making quantum systems and tools available that could offer an advantage for tackling problems outside the realm of classical machines.”
Over the next year, IBM Q scientists will continue to work to improve its devices including the quality of qubits, circuit connectivity, and error rates of operations to increase the depth for running quantum algorithms. For example, within six months, the IBM team was able to extend the coherence times for the 20 qubit processor to be twice that of the publicly available 5 and 16 qubit systems on the IBM Q experience.
In addition to building working systems, IBM continues to grow its robust quantum computing ecosystem, including open-source software tools, applications for near-term systems, and educational and enablement materials for the quantum community. Through the IBM Q experience, over 60,000 users have run over 1.7M quantum experiments and generated over 35 third-party research publications. Users have registered from over 1500 universities, 300 high schools, and 300 private institutions worldwide, many of whom are accessing the IBM Q experience as part of their formal education. This form of open access and open research is critical for accelerated learning and implementation of quantum computing.
“I use the IBM Q experience and QISKit as an integral part of my classroom teaching on quantum computing, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is. In prior years, the course was interesting theoretically, but felt like it described some far off future,” says Andrew Houck, professor of electrical engineering, Princeton University. “Thanks to this incredible resource that IBM offers, I have students run actual quantum algorithms on a real quantum computer as part of their assignments.
“This drives home the point that this is a real technology, not just a pipe dream. What once seemed like an impossible future is now something they can use from their dorm rooms. Now, our enrollments are skyrocketing, drawing excitement from top students from a very wide range of disciplines.”
To augment this ecosystem of quantum researchers and application development, IBM rolled out earlier this year its QISKit project, an open-source software developer kit to program and run quantum computers. IBM Q scientists have now expanded QISKit to enable users to create quantum computing programs and execute them on one of IBM’s real quantum processors or quantum simulators available online. Recent additions to QISKit also include new functionality and visualisation tools for studying the state of the quantum system, integration of QISKit with the IBM Data Science Experience, a compiler that maps desired experiments onto the available hardware, and worked examples of quantum applications.