IBM Announces Significant Advances in Quantum Computing

IBM has produced two quantum computing systems to meet its 2023 roadmap, one based on a chip named Condor, which at 1,121 functioning qubits is the largest transmon-based quantum processor released to date. Transmon-based chips use a type of superconducting qubit that is more error-resistant than typical qubits, which are notoriously unstable. The second IBM system uses three Heron chips, each with 133 qubits. The more modestly scaled Heron and its successor, Flamingo, play a vital role in IBM’s quantum plan, which boasts major progress as a result of these developments.

IBM’s official debut of the Condor and Heron chips coincides with the announcement of IBM Quantum System Two (below), a 22-foot wide by 12-foot high installation featuring three IBM Quantum Heron processors that is currently operational at IBM’s Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

Quantum System Two is a mix of new and established technologies, combining cryogenic infrastructure with third-generation control electronics and classical runtime servers. “IBM Quantum System Two is the modular-architecture quantum computing platform that we will use to realize parallel circuit executions for quantum-centric supercomputing,” IBM explains in a blog post.

“The error-prone nature of today’s quantum computers can make doing any useful computation on them a major headache,” writes IEEE Spectrum, noting that IBM has “integrated error suppression technology from Q-CTRL into IBM cloud quantum services, letting users slash error rates by simply flicking a switch.”

Based on the latest news regarding quantum chipset advances, “IBM will have error-corrected qubits working by the end of the decade, enabled by improvements to individual qubits made over several iterations of the Flamingo chip,” writes Ars Technica.

“IBM announced its path to achieve over 100,000 qubits and over a billion circuit gates,” which means “when realized, IBM may create the world’s first platform for universal computation in a quantum system,” Forbes reports, adding “it sounds like Quantum Nirvana is finally in sight.”

Emphasizing that “quantum-centric supercomputing is not achieved by hardware alone,” IBM says February 2024 will mark the first stable release of its popular Qiskit 1.0 open-source quantum SDK. First released in 2017, Qiskit has been downloaded more than 5.6 million times and is used by researchers, developers and students.

Qiskit 1.0 delivers improvements in circuit construction, compilation times and memory consumption over previous releases, and “outperforms competing compilation frameworks in both runtime and resultant two-qubit gate counts when mapping circuits to quantum hardware,” IBM says.

Unveiling IBM Quantum System Two (Video), IBM Research, 12/4/23
Quantum Computers Could Solve Problems in Minutes That Would Take Today’s Supercomputers Millions of Years (Video), CBS News, 12/3/23

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