IBM Touts Most Powerful Universal
Quantum Computing Processors
May 17, 2017
IBM has successfully built and tested
its most powerful universal quantum computing processors. The first
upgraded processor will be available for use by developers, researchers,
and programmers to explore quantum computing using a real quantum
processor at no cost via the IBM Cloud. The second is a new prototype of
a commercial processor, which will be the core for the first IBM Q
early-access commercial systems.
Launched in March 2017, IBM Q is an industry-first initiative to build
commercially available universal quantum computing systems for business
and science applications. IBM Q systems and services will be delivered
via the IBM Cloud platform. IBM first opened public access to its
quantum processors one year ago, to serve as an enablement tool for
scientific research, a resource for university classrooms, and a
catalyst of enthusiasm for the field. To date users have run more than
300,000 quantum experiments on the IBM Cloud.
IBM Research Staff Member Katie
Pooley, an Applied Physics PhD from Harvard who joined IBM in 2015, at
the Thomas J Watson Research Center, is a process integrator on the IBM
Q team. In the photo, Pooley is examining a cryostat with the new
prototype of a commercial quantum processor inside.
With the introduction of two new
processors today for IBM Q, the company is building the foundation for
solving practical problems in business and science that are intractable
even with today's most powerful classical computing systems.
The two new IBM-developed processors
•A 16 qubit processor that will
allow for more complex experimentation than the previously available 5
qubit processor. It is freely accessible for developers, programmers and
researchers to run quantum algorithms, work with individual quantum
bits, and explore tutorials and simulations.
Beta access is available by request through the
IBM Q experience and a new Software Development Kit is available on
•IBM's first prototype commercial processor with 17 qubits and leverages
significant materials, device, and architecture improvements to make it
the most powerful quantum processor created to date by IBM. It has been
engineered to be at least twice as powerful as what is available today
to the public on the IBM Cloud and it will be the basis for the first
IBM Q early-access commercial systems.
"The significant engineering improvements announced today will allow IBM
to scale future processors to include 50 or more qubits, and demonstrate
computational capabilities beyond today's classical computing systems,"
said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research
and Hybrid Cloud. "These powerful upgrades to our quantum systems,
delivered via the IBM Cloud, allow us to imagine new applications and
new frontiers for discovery that are virtually unattainable using
classical computers alone."
The inherent computational power of a quantum processor to solve
practical problems depends on far more than simply the number of qubits.
Due to the fragile nature of quantum information, increasing the
computational power requires advances in the quality of the qubits, how
the qubits talk to each other and minimizing the quantum errors that can
IBM has adopted a new metric to characterize the computational power of
quantum systems: Quantum Volume. Quantum Volume accounts for the number
and quality of qubits, circuit connectivity, and error rates of
operations. IBM's prototype commercial processor offers a significant
improvement in the Quantum Volume. Over the next few years, IBM plans to
continue to push the technology aggressively and aims to significantly
increase the Quantum Volume of future systems by improving all aspects
of the processors, including incorporating 50 or more qubits.
Experts can learn more here:
While technologies that currently run on classical computers, such as
Watson, can help find patterns and insights buried in vast amounts of
existing data, quantum computers will deliver solutions to important
problems where patterns cannot be found because there isn't enough data
and the possibilities that you need to explore to get to the answer are
too enormous to ever be processed by classical computers.
applications of quantum computing may include:
-- Business Optimization: Providing improved solutions to complex
optimization problems found in supply chains, logistics, modeling
financial data, and risk analysis;
-- Materials and Chemistry:
Untangling the complexity of molecular and chemical interactions leading
to the discovery of new materials and medicines;
-- Artificial Intelligence: Making
facets of artificial intelligence such as machine learning much more
-- Cloud Security: Using the laws of
quantum physics to enhance the security of private data in the cloud.