D-Wave steps up battle for quantum computers

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Quantum computer pioneer D-Wave has launched an experimental prototype of a 500 qubit annealing quantum computer, stepping up the battle for a commercial system.

The Advantage2 prototype features 500+ qubits, linked via a topology called Zephyr with 20-way inter-qubit connectivity and enabled by a new qubit design.

The full system, D-Wave’s sixth generation, is scheduled to be available in 2023-2024 and is expected to have 7,000 qubits using the new qubit design and Zephyr interconnect. D-Wave conducted early benchmarking results that demonstrated increased connectivity, energy scale and coherence as well as reduced qubit noise.   

The company has been developing semiconductor manufacturing expertise in tandem with its materials development program with a proprietary multilayer superconducting fabrication process.

D-Wave is building both annealing and gate based quantum systems. Early systems have been based on annealing, rather than gate-based approaches that are more like today’s computer systems (see video below). 

Startups such as Pasqal, IQM and QuantWare in Europe and PsiQuantum and Xanadu in North America are working on gate-based systems.

In the Zephyr topology, qubits are oriented vertically or horizontally. The previous Chimera topology had two types of coupler: internal couplers connect pairs of orthogonal qubits, and external couplers connect colinear pairs of qubits in parallel, in the same row or column. The following Pegasus famil adds a third type: odd couplers. Odd couplers connect parallel qubit pairs in adjacent rows or columns.

The Zephyr topology features these three coupler types, with a total of two odd couplers, two external couplers, and sixteen internal couplers. The qubits have a nominal length of 16 and degree of 20.

“We’ve been building annealing quantum computers for more than 15 years. In those years, we’ve been able to create a scalable manufacturing and product development cycle. With Advantage2, those learnings have accelerated our ability to bring innovations in fabrication processes and materials, and hardware and software more quickly into our development cycle,” said Emile Hoskinson, Director, Quantum Annealing Products, D-Wave.

“The Advantage2 prototype is designed to share what we’re learning and gain feedback from the community as we continue to build towards the full Advantage2 system. Our current Advantage quantum computer was completely re-engineered from the ground up. With Advantage2, we’re pushing that envelope again – demonstrating that connectivity and reduction in noise can be a delivery vehicle for even greater performance once the full system is available. The Advantage2 prototype is an opportunity for us to share our excitement and give a sneak peek into the future for customers bringing quantum into their applications,” he said.

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