IBM launches 133 qbit quantum chip, looks to 1bn gates

IBM launches 133 qbit quantum chip, looks to 1bn gates

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

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IBM has updated its quantum roadmap following the launch of its 133 qbit Heron chip and the System Two quantum computer.

Heron is the first in a new series of scalable quantum processors with an architecture engineered over the past four years to deliver IBM’s highest performance metrics and lowest error rates. It is also using generative AI to help developers produce quantum code more easily.

The 133 qbit, 5000 gate Heron processor will be followed by four versions of the Flamingo quantum chip, each with 156 qbits but increasing the number of gates from 5000 to 15000.

The Starling chip with full quantum error correction will have 200qbits and 100m gates in 2029, while the Blue Jay processor is planned for 2033with 1bn gates and 2000 qbits.

IBM also unveiled IBM Quantum System Two, the company’s first modular quantum computer and cornerstone of IBM’s quantum-centric supercomputing architecture. The first IBM Quantum System Two, located in Yorktown Heights, New York, has begun operations with three IBM Heron processors and supporting control electronics. 

“We are firmly within the era in which quantum computers are being used as a tool to explore new frontiers of science,” said 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.”

IBM earlier this year showed quantum algorithms running on its 127qubit ‘Quantum Eagle’ processor to solve problems in chemistry, physics, and materials beyond brute force classical simulation of quantum mechanics.

The System Two machine provides five time the performance of the Eagle-based system, combiing a scalable cryogenic infrastructure and classical runtime servers with modular qubit control electronics.

As part of the newly expanded ten-year IBM Quantum Development Roadmap, IBM plans for this system to also house IBM’s future generations of quantum processors. Also, as part of this roadmap, 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.

Generative AI for quantum code 

IBM is also detailing plans for a new generation of its software stack, within which Qiskit 1.0 will be a pivot point defined by stability and speed.

Qiskit Patterns will serve as a mechanism to allow quantum developers to more easily create code. It is based in a collection of tools to simply map classical problems, optimize them to quantum circuits using Qiskit, executing those circuits using Qiskit Runtime, and then postprocess the results. With Qiskit Patterns, combined with Quantum Serverless, users will be able to build, deploy, and execute workflows integrating classical and quantum computation in different environments, such as cloud or on-prem scenarios. All of these tools will provide building blocks for users to build and run quantum algorithms more easily.

IBM is also using generative AI for quantum code programming through watsonx, IBM’s enterprise AI platform. IBM will integrate generative AI available through watsonx to help automate the development of quantum code for Qiskit. This will be achieved through the finetuning of the IBM Granite model series.

“Generative AI and quantum computing are both reaching an inflection point, presenting us with the opportunity to use the trusted foundation model framework of watsonx to simplify how quantum algorithms can be built for utility-scale exploration,” said Jay Gambetta, Vice President and IBM Fellow at IBM. “This is a significant step towards broadening how quantum computing can be accessed and put in the hands of users as an instrument for scientific exploration.”

With advanced hardware across IBM’s global fleet of 100+ qubit systems, as well as easy-to-use software that IBM is debuting in Qiskit, users and computational scientists can now obtain reliable results from quantum systems as they map increasingly larger and more complex problems to quantum circuits.


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