IBM ‘super-fridge’ aims to solve quantum computer cooling problem

The world’s first super fridge for a 1-million-qubit quantum computer.
The world’s first super fridge for a 1-million-qubit quantum computer.

IBM has ambitions to build a million-qubit quantum computer. To get there, it is building a fridge bigger than anything commercially available. 15 December 2020 

  • IBM has set out a roadmap to develop larger qubit systems – from its current quantum computer of 64 qubits to a 1-million-qubit.
  • To move to a million-plus qubit machine, IBM is developing a dilution refrigerator, which would be larger than any currently available commercially

Say GoldenEye and the 1995 James Bond movie comes to mind, not a giant refrigerator.

But that’s the name computing giant IBM has given to a new refrigeration system in development designed to house the world’s first 1-million-qubit quantum computer.

At 10 feet tall and six feet wide, GoldenEye will go to a temperature of around 15 milli-kelvins or -459 Fahrenheit – or colder than outer space. These are the temperatures required to slow down the movement of atoms, so qubits can hold value. 

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CHINA CLAIMS BREAKTHROUGH IN QUANTUM COMPUTING RACE


By Preetipadma

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The trade war rivalry between USA and China is well known. However, since the past few years, both the nations are caught up in a heated tech race towards supremacy. This is also reflected with China putting its best to lead in terms of quantum computing power too.

Last year, Google grabbed headlines, when it announced Sycamore quantum computerhad achieved quantum advantage—formerly known as quantum supremacy. Sycamore could perform computation in 200 seconds that would take the fastest supercomputers about 10,000 years. Recently, China developed a quantum computing system which is reported to be 10 billion times faster than Google’s Sycamore. Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China explained that this quantum computer prototype named Jiuzhang delivered results in minutes calculated to take more than 2 billion years of effort by the world’s third-most-powerful supercomputer.

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Chinese quantum computer completes 2.5-billion-year task in minutes

By Michael Irving

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A diagram of an optical circuit, where photons (red) are sent through a maze of beam splitters and mirrors and a quantum computer like Jiuzhang calculates the output

Researchers in China claim to have achieved quantum supremacy, the point where a quantum computer completes a task that would be virtually impossible for a classical computer to perform. The device, named Jiuzhang, reportedly conducted a calculation in 200 seconds that would take a regular supercomputer a staggering 2.5 billion years to complete.

Traditional computers process data as binary bits – either a zero or a one. Quantum computers, on the other hand, have a distinct advantage in that their bits can also be both a one and a zero at the same time. That raises the potential processing power exponentially, as two quantum bits (qubits) can be in four possible states, three qubits can be in eight states, and so on.

That means quantum computers can explore many possibilities simultaneously, while a classical computer would have to run through each option one after the other. Progress so far has seen quantum computers perform calculations much faster than traditional ones, but their ultimate test would be when they can do things that classical computers simply can’t. And that milestone has been dubbed “quantum supremacy.”

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Chinese photonic quantum computer demonstrates quantum supremacy

by Bob Yirka

Chinese-Photopic-quantum-computer-supremacy

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China has built and tested a photonic quantum computer that demonstrates quantum supremacy. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their computer, which they call Jiuzhang, and how well it performed while conducting Gaussian boson sampling.

Quantum computers have been in the news lately as scientists try to determine if they can meet expectations.

Quantum computers could vastly outperform conventional machines on certain tasks. The goal is to achieve what has come to be known as” quantum supremacy”—where a quantum computer can outperform conventional computers on at least one type of task.

Until now, only one computer has ever achieved this feat—Google’s Sycamore device. And because the field is still so new, researchers around the world are working on vastly different designs. Sycamore was based on qubits represented by superconducting materials. In this new effort, the team in China has developed a photon-based quantum computer capable of carrying out a single specific type of calculation—boson sampling.

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New approach to circuit compression could deliver real-world quantum computers years ahead of schedule

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Compression of a circuit that has an initial volume of 882 using the proposed method. The reduced circuit has a volume of 420, less than half its original volume.

A major technical challenge for any practical, real-world quantum computer comes from the need for a large number of physical qubits to deal with errors that accumulate during computation. Such quantum error correction is resource-intensive and computationally time-consuming. But researchers have found an effective software method that enables significant compression of quantum circuits, relaxing the demands placed on hardware development.

Quantum computers may still be far from a commercial reality, but what is termed ‘quantum advantage’—the ability of a quantum computer to compute hundreds or thousands of times faster than a classical computer-has indeed been achieved on what are called Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) devices in early proof-of-principle experiments.

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Quantum sensors could let autonomous cars ‘see’ around corners

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High-precision metrology based on the peculiarities of the subatomic world

Quantum computers get all the hype, but quantum sensors could be equally transformative, enabling autonomous vehicles that can “see” around corners, underwater navigation systems, early-warning systems for volcanic activity and earthquakes, and portable scanners that monitor a person’s brain activity during daily life.

Quantum sensors reach extreme levels of precision by exploiting the quantum nature of matter—using the difference between, for example, electrons in different energy states as a base unit. Atomic clocks illustrate this principle. The world time standard is based on the fact that electrons in cesium 133 atoms complete a specific transition 9,192,631,770 times a second; this is the oscillation that other clocks are tuned against. Other quantum sensors use atomic transitions to detect minuscule changes in motion and tiny differences in gravitational, electric and magnetic fields.

There are other ways to build a quantum sensor, however. For example, researchers at the University of Birmingham in England are working to develop free-falling, supercooled atoms to detect tiny changes in local gravity. This kind of quantum gravimeter would be capable of detecting buried pipes, cables and other objects that today can be reliably found only by digging. Seafaring ships could use similar technology to detect underwater objects.

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Quantum computing may make current encryption obsolete, a quantum internet could be the solution

Quantum computer. Big data. Abstract physics concept with grid quantum computer. Learning artificial intelligence element. Cryptography infographic.

Sometime between now and 2030, the mathematical system that protects all of digital communications may fall victim to a superior quantum system. Preparing for that time may require us to reinvent the network itself.

“The quantum threat is basically going to destroy the security of networks as we know them today,” declared Bruno Huttner, who directs strategic quantum initiatives for Geneva, Switzerland-based ID Quantique. No other commercial organization since the turn of the century has been more directly involved in the development of science and working theories for the future quantum computer network.

Quantum computers offer great promise for cryptography and optimization problems. ZDNet explores what quantum computers will and won’t be able to do, and the challenges we still face.

One class of theory involves cryptographic security. The moment a quantum computer (QC) breaks through the dam currently held in place by public-key cryptography (PKC), every encrypted message in the world will become vulnerable. That’s Huttner’s “quantum threat”.

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Honeywell announces its H1 quantum computer with 10 qubits

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Honeywell, which was a bit of a surprise entrant into the quantum computing space when it announced its efforts to build the world’s most powerful quantum computer earlier this year, today announced its newest system: the Model H1. The H1 uses trapped-ion technology and features 10 fully connected qubits that allow it to reach a quantum volume of 128 (where quantum volume [QV] is a metric of the overall compute power of a quantum computer, no matter the underlying technology). That’s higher than comparable efforts by IBM, but also well behind the QV 4,000,000 machine IonQ says it was able to achieve with 32 qubits.

The H1 will be available to enterprises through the Azure Quantum platform and the company says that it is partnering with Zapata Computing and Cambridge Quantum Computing on this project.

When it first announced its efforts, Honeywell said that its experience in building control systems allowed it to build an advanced ion trap and more uniform qubits that hence make error correction easier.

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D-Wave’s 5,000-qubit quantum computing platform handles 1 million variables

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D-Wave Advantage System

D-Wave today launched its next-generation quantum computing platform available via its Leap quantum cloud service. The company calls Advantage “the first quantum computer built for business.” In that vein, D-Wave today also debuted Launch, a jump-start program for businesses that want to begin building hybrid quantum applications.

“The Advantage quantum computer is the first quantum computer designed and developed from the ground up to support business applications,” D-Wave CEO Alan Baratz told VentureBeat. “We engineered it to be able to deal with large, complex commercial applications and to be able to support the running of those applications in production environments. There is no other quantum computer anywhere in the world that can solve problems at the scale and complexity that this quantum computer can solve problems. It really is the only one that you can run real business applications on. The other quantum computers are primarily prototypes. You can do experimentation, run small proofs of concept, but none of them can support applications at the scale that we can.”

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Top 10 digital transformation trends for 2021

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No one could have predicted where 2020 would take us: The last six months alone have produced more digital transformation than the last decade, with every transformation effort already underway finding itself accelerated, and at scale. While many of my digital transformation predictions from a year ago benefited from this shift, others were displaced by more urgent needs, like 24/7 secure and reliable connectivity. What does this mean for 2021? Will core technologies like AI and data analytics still dominate headlines, or will we see newer, previously emerging technologies take the lead? Only time will tell, but here are my top ten digital transformation predictions for 2021.

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IBM publishes its quantum roadmap, says it will have a 1,000-qubit machine in 2023

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IBM Quantum Hummingbird

IBM today, for the first time, published its road map for the future of its quantum computing hardware. There is a lot to digest here, but the most important news in the short term is that the company believes it is on its way to building a quantum processor with more than 1,000 qubits — and somewhere between 10 and 50 logical qubits — by the end of 2023.

Currently, the company’s quantum processors top out at 65 qubits. It plans to launch a 127-qubit processor next year and a 433-qubit machine in 2022. To get to this point, IBM is also building a completely new dilution refrigerator to house these larger chips, as well as the technology to connect multiple of these units to build a system akin to today’s multi-core architectures in classical chips.

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New research advances U.S. Army’s quest for ultra-secure quantum networking

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Two U.S. Army research projects at the University of Chicago advance quantum networking, which will play a key role in future battlefield operations.

 Quantum networks will potentially deliver multiple novel capabilities not achievable with classical networks, one of which is secure quantum communication. In quantum communication protocols, information is typically sent through entangled photon particles. It is nearly impossible to eavesdrop on quantum communication, and those who try leave evidence of their tampering; however, sending quantum information via photons over traditional channels, such as fiber-optic lines, is difficult – the photons carrying the information are often corrupted or lost, making the signals weak or incoherent.

In the first project, the University of Chicago research team, funded and managed by the U.S. Army’s Combat Capability Development’s Army Research Laboratory’s Center for Distributed Quantum Information, demonstrated a new quantum communication technique that bypasses those traditional channels. The research linked two communication nodes with a channel and sent information quantum-mechanically between the nodes—without ever occupying the linking channel.

“This result is particularly exciting not only because of the high transfer efficiency the team achieved, but also because the system they developed will enable further exploration of quantum protocols in the presence of variable signal loss,” said Dr. Sara Gamble, program manager at the lab’s Army Research Office and co-manager of the Center for Distributed Quantum Information. “Overcoming loss is a key obstacle in realizing robust quantum communication and quantum networks.”

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