September 18, 2019 | Written by: Doug McClure and Jay Gambetta
Categorized: Quantum Computing | Systems
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IBM continued its push toward large-scale adoption of quantum computing with the opening of the first IBM Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, bringing the number of quantum computing systems available online via our IBM Q Experience platform to a total of 10. To meet growing demand, an additional four systems are scheduled to come online in the next month. This milestone represents a paradigm shift in quantum computing, marking the first large-scale deployment of quantum computing systems. One of the systems to be released next month has 53 qubits, which will make it the largest commercially available universal gate-model quantum computing system to date. These systems give IBM Q Network enterprise users, researchers, and developers the ability to explore the potential of quantum computing for solving complex real-world problems in business and science.
IBM Quantum system configuration maps: The systems named Johannesburg, Poughkeepsie, Almaden, Boeblingen, and Singapore represent the latest generations of 20-qubit systems, while the new 5-qubit systems, Ourense, Valencia, and Vigo, feature a T-shaped layout. Melbourne is a directed ladder-type geometry and Yorktown features bowtie connectivity.
The opening of the IBM Quantum Computation Center is further evidence that after years of development, IBM is taking the lead in moving the technology out of the research lab and putting it directly into the hands of developers, researchers, academic and enterprise users, and quantum technology and service providers. With IBM’s systems reporting year-to-date uptime of 95 percent, users can take advantage of near-continuous access to tackle problems that would otherwise be intractable were it not for this stability.
IBM’s strategy of developing families of quantum processors that integrate into quantum systems made available to the community is akin to the evolution of semiconductor nodes: the industry continues to pioneer new chips while delivering on previous nodes (in many cases for years). Similarly, our team iterates and improves the performance of our quantum processors multiple times per year.
For instance, we have now delivered four generations of the 20-qubit processor family and will continue to maintain these devices for client use, while simultaneously gearing up toward releasing newer devices such as the upcoming 53-qubit system, the first in our next family of processors. The release of this device is especially important because it offers a significantly larger lattice of qubits, giving users the ability to explore larger algorithms and entangled states than before.
The 53-qubit system offers a larger lattice and gives users the ability to run even more complex entanglement and connectivity experiments.
Increasing the volume of systems – and performance
The Quantum Volume is the largest computational space a quantum computing device can explore. This discrete quantity scales exponentially with the number of qubits. A system that successfully searches a four-qubit space has Quantum Volume 24 = 16.
Quantifying system performance plays a key role in assessing the progress toward achieving “quantum advantage” — when for certain practical use cases, we can definitively demonstrate a significant performance advantage over today’s classical computers. To gauge the computational power of a quantum system, IBM developed Quantum Volume, a system-level performance metric that accounts for gate and measurement errors, device cross-talk and connectivity, and circuit compiler software efficiency.
IBM’s goal is to double Quantum Volume every year, and to ultimately demonstrate quantum advantage within the next decade. Recently, research and advisory firm Gartner highlighted Quantum Volume as a way to measure progress toward quantum advantage.
Among the IBM Quantum systems fleet are five devices capable of achieving a Quantum Volume of 16, the largest achieved to date and twice the value achieved in our prior generation of quantum systems. As a measure of quantum computational power, increases in Quantum Volume correlate with the ability to solve larger, more complex problems across a range of disciplines.
Access to these new systems will therefore enable our users to take their exploration of new algorithms – for quantum finance, chemistry, and protein folding, among others – to the next level.
In short, our goal is to help the global community get “quantum ready” – to prepare to take full advantage of the quantum computing era as it arrives. To that end, the opening of the IBM Quantum Computation Center has allowed us to provide significantly more systems, with more qubits and larger Quantum Volume, than ever before. It will be exciting to see the results of the research that will be performed on these new devices.