IBM achieves quantum supremacy

IBM achieves quantum supremacy

IBM, on the occasion of the annual Quantum Summit, announced the achievement of quantum supremacy at the same time as the unveiling of its latest Quantum Processor, codenamed Eagle. The new quantum processor is the first in the world to feature more than 100 operational and connected qubits, 127 to be exact. IBM's claim is appropriate: Eagle is, in fact, the embodiment of quantum supremacy. It represents that moment of astonishing awareness: when problems that previously could not be solved can now be addressed.

Dr Darío Gil, IBM Senior Vice President and Director of Research, said:

The arrival of the “Eagle” processor is an important step towards the day when quantum computers can surpass classical computers to a significant degree. Quantum computing has the power to transform almost any industry and help us tackle the major problems of our time. This is why IBM continues to rapidly innovate quantum hardware design, create ways to enable quantum and classical workloads to power each other, and create a global ecosystem indispensable for adopting quantum computing.

Photo Credit: IBM Quantum computing applications, now accelerated with IBM Eagle, can be found everywhere, from machine learning optimizations to molecule modeling (covering essentially almost every element of life, from molecular gastronomy to engineering materials and substrates); to the research fields of the pharmaceutical and energy industry a. Now there is a quantum computer capable of solving computational problems that no classical computer system can decipher. Unfortunately, Eagle is still only available as an exploration device on the IBM Cloud, through its IBM Quantum Network initiative.

IBM Eagle naturally builds on the company's previous design decisions. It follows the 65 qubit Hummingbird (2020) processor and the 2019 27 qubit Falcon processor and takes lessons learned from both of these architectures to achieve even more complex quantum circuits than ever before. While qubits can be seen as the equivalent of today's cores, quantum circuits represent how those cores are arranged. The more qubits (cores) the system has, the more complex programs (layers of quantum circuits) can be executed. IBM claims that Eagle is so advanced that if you were to describe the quantum state of Eagle's 127 qubits in a classical computer, you would need more bits than there are atoms in all 7.5 billion people on Earth.

IBM is further investing in quantum computing, having implemented its Quantum System One with various partners. Billed as the world's first integrated quantum computing system, IBM's System One has been used successfully at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Germany's leading scientific research institute, and at the University of Tokyo, Japan. IBM will also distribute its System One to Cleveland Clinic in the United States. Additionally, IBM Quantum announced a partnership with Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, which will see the exploration of another IBM-based quantum computing system in academia.

The company now has announced the natural evolution of System One. IBM Quantum System Two is already under development and gives us a glimpse of what the future of quantum computing might look like. IBM says the system will be able to house the next 433 qubit Osprey quantum processor and the 1,121 qubit Condor expected in 2023. IBM appears to be confident that these will be able to take us to the coveted era of Quantum Advantage and that System Two will truly bring revolutionary changes to the foundation of problem solving across industries and sectors: from coordinating the logistics of our global system to designing more efficient batteries.

Photo Credit: IBM's Quantum System Two will also bring to a greater focus on modularity as an enabling factor for scalability. The goal is for System Two to be able to serve as a delivery vehicle for modular and next-generation iterations of IBM's quantum computing products, allowing distributions to scale up to a certain point. As such, the system integrates resources that any institution may need to scale. These resources include control electronics (required for qubit manipulation) and cryogenic cooling (which allows the quantum properties of sub-zero temperatures to manifest). The company is already trying to understand what a cooling system could look like for a million qubit system; for now, the answer is a 10-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide “super-refrigerator” with internal code name “Goldeneye” (the largest dilution refrigerator of any commercially available today).

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