IBM debuts utility-scale quantum processors

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 05 Dec 2023
IBM Quantum Heron is described by the company as its best-performing quantum processor to date.
IBM Quantum Heron is described by the company as its best-performing quantum processor to date.

Computing giant IBM has debuted IBM Quantum Heron, which it says is the first in a new series of utility-scale quantum processors with an architecture engineered over the past four years.

It claims the series will deliver the firm’s highest performance metrics and lowest error rates of any IBM Quantum processor to date.

Algorithmiq, a scale-up firm developing quantum algorithms to solve the most complex problems in life sciences, successfully runs one of the largest-scale error mitigation experiments to date on IBM’s hardware, says IBM.

During the IBM Quantum Summit, being held in New York this week, IBM also unveiled Quantum System Two, its first modular quantum computer and cornerstone of its quantum-centric supercomputing architecture.

In a statement, the company says the first IBM Quantum System Two, located in Yorktown Heights, New York, has begun operations with three IBM Heron processors and supporting control electronics.

With this critical foundation now in place, along with other breakthroughs in quantum hardware, theory and software, it says it is extending its IBM Quantum Development Roadmap to 2033 with new targets to significantly advance the quality of gate operations.

According to IBM, doing so would increase the size of quantum circuits able to be run and help to realise the full potential of quantum computing at scale.

“We are firmly within the era in which quantum computers are being used as a tool to explore new frontiers of science,” says Dario Gil, IBM SVP and director of research.

“As we continue to advance how quantum systems can scale and deliver value through modular architectures, we will further increase the quality of a utility-scale quantum technology stack – and put it into the hands of our users and partners who will push the boundaries of more complex problems.”

As demonstrated by IBM earlier this year on a 127-qubit IBM Quantum Eagle processor, IBM Quantum systems can now serve as a scientific tool to explore utility-scale classes of problems in chemistry, physics and materials beyond brute force classical simulation of quantum mechanics, says the computing company.

The firm points out that IBM Quantum System Two is the foundation of its next-generation quantum computing system architecture.

It combines scalable cryogenic infrastructure and classical runtime servers with modular qubit control electronics, it explains.

“The new system is a building block for IBM’s vision of quantum-centric supercomputing. This architecture combines quantum communication and computation, assisted by classical computing resources, and leverages a middleware layer to appropriately integrate quantum and classical workflows.”

As part of the newly-expanded 10-year IBM Quantum Development Roadmap, IBM plans for this system to also house its future generations of quantum processors.

These future processors are intended to gradually improve the quality of operations they can run, to significantly extend the complexity and size of workloads they are capable of handling, it says.