IBM aims for 4000 qubit quantum computer

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

IBM is developing a quantum computer with 4,158 qubits for 2025 on the way to large scale systems.

A new roadmap details plans for modular architectures and networking that will allow IBM quantum systems to have larger qubit-counts, potentially up to hundreds of thousands of qubits. It is also building an increasingly intelligent software orchestration layer to efficiently distribute workloads and abstract away infrastructure challenges.

The Kookaburra quantum processor will have 1,386 qubits, with three chips combined to create a quantum computer with 4158 qubits. This builds on the development of the smaller Eagle chip with 127 qubits and the planned Osprey chip with 433 qubits later this year. Condor, the world’s first universal quantum processor with over 1,000 qubits, is planned for 2023.

IBM uses a superconducting transmon qubit made from superconducting materials such as niobium and aluminium patterned on a silicon substrate.

It is planning a 133-qubit processor called Heron with control hardware that allows for real-time classical communication between separate processors in 2023, and then extending the size of quantum processors by enabling multi-chip processors. The Crossbill 408 qubit processor will be made from three chips connected by chip-to-chip couplers to make users feel as if they’re just using just one, larger processor.

“In just two years, our team has made incredible progress on our existing quantum roadmap. Executing on our vision has given us clear visibility into the future of quantum and what it will take to get us to the practical quantum computing era,” said Darío Gil, Senior Vice President, Director of Research, IBM. “With our Qiskit Runtime platform and the advances in hardware, software, and theory goals outlined in our roadmap, we intend to usher in an era of quantum-centric supercomputers that will open up large and powerful computational spaces for our developer community, partners and clients.”

IBM has also developed a containerized quantum computing service and programming model called Qiskit Runtime that runs on Eagle and Osprey that can run across multiple quantum processors.

The next step involves deploying short-range, chip-level couplers. These couplers will closely connect multiple chips together to effectively form a single and larger processor and will introduce fundamental modularity that is key to scaling.

The third component to reaching true scalability involves providing quantum communication links between quantum processors. To do so, IBM has proposed quantum communication links to connect clusters together into a larger quantum system.

“Our new quantum roadmap shows how we intend to achieve the scale, quality, and speed of computing necessary to unlock the promise of quantum technology,” said Jay Gambetta, VP of Quantum Computing and IBM Fellow. “By combining modular quantum processors with classical infrastructure, orchestrated by Qiskit Runtime, we are building a platform that will let users easily build quantum calculations into their workflows and so tackle the essential challenges of our time.”

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