Thousands, if not millions of qubits, will be needed for quantum computers and these have to operate around 4K (-270 °C). The major barrier to scaling is the amount of control cabling, which is in direct proportion to the number of qubits within the system. This problem can only be solved by moving the control electronics into the cryostat.
However the power generated by the electronics in the cryostat raises the temperature needed for quantum operation and compromises the operation of the computer. This is where SureCore sees an opportunity for its ultra-low power CMOS SRAM memory IP and then for sub-threshold control logic. The smaller swing means much less power dissipation and so less losses.
Sheffield-based SureCore aims to provide IP that will enable the design of ‘Cryo-CMOS’ control chips that can be co-located with the qubits in the cryostat and help solve the current problem of extensive and performance limiting cabling used to connect the qubits with their associated control electronics usually running at room temperatures outside the cryostat.
However, this will need complex new libraries characterised for operation at 4K.
“We are uniquely positioned to solve two of the key challenges to developing Cryo-CMOS. Currently, the standard industrial operating temperature range for most commercial CMOS process technologies is from -40°C to 125°C and this is reflected in the transistor SPICE models supplied by silicon foundries. By working closely with both industry partners and foundries, we plan to design and characterise silicon IP capable of operation down to 4°K,” said Paul Wells, CEO of SureCore.
“The second challenge is to ensure that the control electronics dissipates as little heat as possible so as to minimise the cooling load on the cryostat. Hence it is critical that, as far as is possible, low power design techniques are deployed. We are experts in reducing the power consumption of CMOS; our design methodologies have already demonstrated up to 50% dynamic power reduction in embedded memory IP. By deploying these techniques in the design of Cryo-CMOS, we aim to minimise the excess heat generated thereby easing the scalability challenges for large quantum computers,” he said.
sureCore will customise its embedded memory IP for a range it called CryoMem. This will be adapted for control logic with a range of IP tailored for the development of complete QC control electronics.
“This new IP library will help unlock the potential of QC by accelerating the development of cost effective, cryogenic control ASICs for the hundreds of QC companies out there competing to deliver competitive quantum compute solutions,” said Wells.
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