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IBM sees 2023 as quantum inflexion point

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty


IBM has launched its largest quantum processor with 433 qubits and a range of hardware and software technologies that it says will drive the tipping pint for quantum computers next year.

“We declare 2023 as a major inflection point: we’re ready to begin realizing the quantum-centric supercomputer, a modular computing architecture which enables scaling, combining quantum communication and computation to increase computational capacity, while employing hybrid cloud middleware to seamlessly integrate quantum and classical workflows,” said Jay Gambetta, IBM Felloe and vice president of IBM Quantum. 

IBM launched Osprey, its 433 qubit processor, three times the size of the earlier Eagle 127 qubit processor launched last year. Osprey includes multi-level wiring to provide flexibility for signal routing and device layout, while also adding in integrated filtering to reduce noise and improve stability.

Separately, the company validated a new high-density control signal delivery with flex wiring to provide a 70% increase in wire density and a 5x reduction in price-per-line. 

A third-generation control system will be capable of controlling 400 qubits in a single rack at an even lower price point than the previous generations.

The company has also been addressing criticisms that quantum computers cannot be used to solve practical problems with software enhancements. It has added error suppression into its Qiskit Runtime primitives by simply setting an optimization level in the API and add error mitigation for larger fault-tolerant quantum computers.

This allows users to explore the tradeoff between the increased accuracy of more advanced error mitigation versus the increased overhead. Both of these features have been released as a beta, with full support in 2025.

IBM system users now have full access to dynamic circuits, those which incorporate classical computing during the coherence time of the qubits to perform a richer array of circuit operations. Dynamic circuits will greatly the reduce the length of certain quantum circuits, and are therefore crucial for the near-term potential of useful quantum computation.

The IBM Quantum Network has expanded to over 200 members with more global partners including DESY, IIT Madras, and uptownBasel; and new industry partners Bosch, Tokyo Electron, HSBC, and Vodafone.

“We said that 2023 would mark a major inflection point in quantum computing — where we begin to realize quantum-centric supercomputing. So, next year, we’re beginning to take the steps to get us there,” said Gambetta. “Sitting at the center of the quantum-centric supercomputer is advanced middleware, built for maximizing the performance of quantum applications running across parallelized, cloud-based, quantum- and classical-computational resources. This middleware will incorporate the Circuit Knitting Toolbox, where circuit knitting is a technique incorporating classical computation to take on some of the computational burden of a quantum circuit to exceed what we can achieve with either alone.”

Circuit Knitting Toolbox and Quantum Serverless software are released in alpha this year, with a full release scheduled for 2025.

IBM Quantum System Two

“In 2024, we plan to offer a tool capable of calculating unbiased observables of circuits with 100 qubits and 100 depth of gate operations in a reasonable runtime,” said Gambetta. This will be based on the Heron processor to be launched next year. This will have 133 qubits with more configurability and lower error rates.

“This system will be able to run quantum circuits with complexity and runtime beyond the capabilities of the best classical computers today,” he said.

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