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The hardware and software for the era of quantum utility is here

The hardware and software for the era of quantum utility is here

We’ve entered a new era of quantum computing.

4 Dec 2023

Jay Gambetta

We define eras using themes that unite periods of time. In the case of quantum computing, the theme of the past few decades has been the emergence and establishment of this new technology. The community focused on laying the groundwork: experimenting with quantum hardware, devising use cases, and educating people on how to use quantum computers, while running experiments benchmarking devices. We made quantum computing real.

But earlier this year, we published an experiment that changed the status quo. We demonstrated that quantum computers could run circuits beyond the reach of brute-force classical simulations. For the first time, we have hardware and software capable of executing quantum circuits with no known a priori answer at a scale of 100 qubits and 3,000 gates. Quantum is now a computational tool, and what makes me most excited is that we can start to advance science in fields beyond quantum computing, itself.

A new paper from IBM and UC Berkeley shows a path toward useful quantum computing. Read more.

I like to say users are using quantum computing to do quantum computing, and we are adding capabilities that open up quantum to an extended set of users that includes what we refer to as quantum computational scientists. We think this is proof enough that we’ve entered a new era.

From these large-scale experiments, it has become clear that we must go beyond the traditional circuit model and take advantage of parallelism, concurrent classical computing, and dynamic circuits. We have ample evidence that, with tools such as circuit knitting, we can enhance the reach of quantum computation, and new quantum algorithms are emerging that make use of multiple quantum circuits, potentially in parallel and with concurrent classical operations. It is clear that a heterogeneous computing architecture consisting of scalable and parallel circuit execution and advanced classical computation is required.

This is our vision for the high-performance systems for the future: quantum-centric supercomputing. At this year’s IBM Quantum Summit, we announce major updates that bring us closer to this goal, as well as an extended roadmap that details the journey toward quantum-centric supercomputing over the next decade — allowing more advanced utility-scale work and a frictionless development environment for our users.

IBM Debuts Next-Generation Quantum Processor & IBM Quantum System Two, Extends Roadmap to Advance Era of Quantum Utility

Breaking the 1,000-qubit barrier with Condor

We have introduced IBM Condor, a 1,121 superconducting qubit quantum processor based on our cross-resonance gate technology. Condor pushes the limits of scale and yield in chip design with a 50% increase in qubit density, advances in qubit fabrication and laminate size, and includes over a mile of high-density cryogenic flex IO wiring within a single dilution refigerator. With performance comparable to our previous 433-qubit Osprey, it serves as an innovation milestone, solving scale and informing future hardware design.

Access to the highest performing quantum processor: Heron

Building on four years of research, we introduced the first IBM Quantum Heron processor on the ibm_torino quantum system. Featuring 133 fixed-frequency qubits with tunable couplers, Heron yields a 3-5x improvement in device performance over our previous flagship 127-qubit Eagle processors, and virtually eliminates cross-talk. With Heron, we have developed a qubit and the gate technology that we’re confident will form the foundation of our hardware roadmap going forward.

133-qubit IBM Quantum Heron

IBM Quantum Heron features 133 fixed-frequency qubits with tunable couplers, yielding a 3-5x improvement in device performance over our previous flagship 127-qubit Eagle processors, and virtually eliminates cross-talk.

IBM Quantum System Two: The system for a decade of scalable quantum computation

IBM Quantum System Two is the bedrock for scalable quantum computation, and is now operational at our lab in Yorktown Heights, NY. It is 22 feet wide, 12 feet high, and today features three IBM Quantum Heron processors. It combines cryogenic infrastructure with third-generation control electronics and classical runtime servers.

IBM Quantum System Two is the modular-architecture quantum computing platform that we will use to realize parallel circuit executions for quantum-centric supercomputing.

Unveiling IBM Quantum System Two

Qiskit 1.0 coming in February 2024

Quantum-centric supercomputing is not achieved by hardware alone. It requires performant software for generating and manipulating quantum circuits and middleware for executing hybrid quantum-classical workflows in a heterogeneous computing environment. Qiskit 1.0 marks the first stable release of Qiskit, the most popular quantum computing SDK. It delivers marked improvements in circuit construction, compilation times, and memory consumption compared to earlier releases.

In addition, Qiskit 1.0 outperforms competing compilation frameworks in both runtime and resultant two-qubit gate counts when mapping circuits to quantum hardware.

AI transpilation alpha for Premium Users

IBM brings the power of AI to quantum computing with the world’s first circuit compilation service using reinforcement learning running on the IBM Quantum Platform. This initial preview demonstrates a reduction in two-qubit gate count of 20-50% compared to standard heuristic methods.

Execution modes

To further optimize throughput when executing multiple independent jobs, we introduce batch mode — a new execution mode yielding up to a 5x improvement in execution time relative to single-job submission. In addition, for utility-scale iterative workloads we have released extended Sessions, which allow for combining multiple Sessions together to seamlessly enable advanced quantum-classical workloads.

Qiskit Patterns and Quantum Serverless

IBM introduced Qiskit Patterns, a programming template outlining the structure of quantum programs and a logical framework for building quantum algorithms and applications at scale. Taking advantage of the composability, containerization, and abstraction provided by Qiskit Patterns, users can seamlessly create quantum algorithms and applications from a collection of foundational building blocks and execute those Patterns using heterogeneous computing infrastructure such as Quantum Serverless. This allows for targeted quantum acceleration of preexisting enterprise scale workflows and provides for abstraction away from quantum circuits and operators. With Qiskit Patterns, IBM is announcing the deployment of Quantum Serverless as beta for managed, unattended execution of Patterns at scale.

Generative AI for quantum on watsonx

To better streamline the quantum development process, IBM is pioneering the use of generative AI for quantum code programming through watsonx, the enterprise AI platform from IBM. We demonstrate how generative AI available through watsonx can help automate the development of quantum code for Qiskit. We achieve this through the fine-tuning of the IBM Granite 20-billion parameter code foundation model.

Extended roadmap to 2033

In order to guide our mission to realize quantum-centric supercomputing, we are expanding our industry-defining roadmap out to 2033 for a decade worth of quantum innovation. The roadmap highlights improvements in the number of gates that our processors and systems will be able to execute. Starting with a target of Heron reaching 5,000 gates in 2024, the roadmap lays out multiple generations of processors, each leveraging improvements in quality to achieve ever-larger gate counts.

View the extended IBM Quantum Development Roadmap through 2033, and the IBM Quantum Innovation Roadmap through 2029.

Then, in 2029, we hit an inflection point: executing 100 million gates over 200 qubits with our Starling processor employing error correction based on the novel Gross code. This is followed by Blue Jay, a system capable of executing 1 billion gates across 2,000 qubits by 2033. This represents a nine order-of-magnitude increase in performed gates since we put our first device on the cloud in 2016. Our new innovation roadmap will demonstrate the technology needed to realize the Gross code through l-, m-, and c-couplers to be demonstrated by Flamingo, Crossbill, and Kookaburra processors, respectively.

Gross is a unit of a dozen dozen. Read more about this error correcting codes for near-term quantum computers.

Laying the groundwork for quantum-powered use cases

University of Tokyo, Argonne National Laboratory, Fundacion Ikerbasque, Qedma, Algorithmiq, University of Washington, University of Cologne, Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Q-CTRL all demonstrated new research to explore the power of utility-scale quantum computing. These demonstrations showed that advances in both device quality and new capabilities are allowing us to explore more challenging circuits, extending beyond quantum computing native problems to use quantum and classical working together to extend the reach of the systems.

Read more about why you need 100 qubits to accelerate discovery with quantum

Updating our offerings for the era of utility

Entering the era of utility means a shift of focus to providing a Qiskit Runtime service designed for utility-scale experiments and availability to utility-scale systems across all of our access plans. Now, we make 100+ qubit systems available on our Open Plan to provide free access to start your quantum journey, on our Pay-As-You-Go Plan, on our Premium Plan that provides reserved capacity, and on our Dedicated Service which provides a dedicated managed system deployed at our partners’ locations.

Quantum Accelerator 3.0

Entering the era of utility opens up new opportunities for enterprises to engage with quantum computing and explore workforce integration. We are expanding our enterprise offerings to continue to advance industry use cases for utility-scale quantum computing.

IBM Quantum Safe

This progress in quantum technology also means that to keep our data secure, we need new cryptography based on mathematical problems that are challenging to both quantum and classical computers. IBM Quantum Safe helps enterprises assess their cryptographic posture and modernize their cybersecurity landscape for the era of quantum utility.

Our updated IBM Quantum Safe roadmap highlights how we are continuing to advance research into quantum-safe cryptography, foster industry partnerships to drive adoption of post-quantum cryptographic solutions, and develop new quantum-safe technologies — including IBM Quantum Safe Explorer, our cryptographic discovery tool released this past October.

The era of utility is here — and now it’s up to you to use utility-scale systems to explore the potential of quantum. Learn more on our updated platform, here.

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