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IBM launches its first modular quantum computer and new processor

Written by Tue 5 Dec 2023

Image of IBM Quantum Heron

IBM has introduced IBM Quantum Heron, a new quantum processor, and IBM Quantum System Two, its first modular quantum computer. These developments are another step in IBM’s journey towards utility-scale quantum computing that transcend traditional silicon-based computers.

Heron represents a leap in quantum computing performance, offering the lowest error rates and highest performance of any IBM Quantum processor. The cryogenically-cooled processor is a result of four years of architectural engineering. It is now available via the cloud.

The modular IBM Quantum System Two uses three ‘Heron’ and is designed to facilitate quantum and classical computing integration. The system will be housed in Yorktown Heights, New York.

Dario Gil, IBM SVP and Director of Research, said: “We are firmly within the era in which quantum computers are being used as a tool to explore new frontiers of science. 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.”

Last year, IBM unveiled its Osprey processor, which has a qubit count of 433.

The Road to Quantum

IBM also extended its Development Roadmap to 2033. This includes new targets for improving the quality of gate operations, aiming to enhance quantum circuit sizes and capabilities. Such advancements are crucial for realising the full potential of quantum computing at scale.

As part of the newly expanded ten-year Development Roadmap, IBM also plans for its System Two to house IBM’s future generations of quantum processors.

Organisations are using the systems to realise the full potential of quantum computing at scale, including the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Tokyo, University of Washington, University of Cologne, Harvard University, Qedma, Algorithmiq, UC Berkeley, Q-CTRL, Fundacion Ikerbasque, Donostia International Physics Center, and the University of the Basque Country.

The systems have been used to explore utility-scale problems in chemistry, physics, and materials beyond the capabilities of classical simulation of quantum mechanics.

In addition to hardware innovations, IBM is focusing on software development with the announcement of Qiskit 1.0. This new generation of software aims to simplify quantum programming, enhancing the ease and speed with which computational scientists can execute quantum circuits.

Jay Gambetta, Vice President and IBM Fellow at IBM, said: “Generative AI and quantum computing are both reaching an inflection point … 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.”

IBM will use its watsonx AI and data platform to develop quantum code for Qiskit through the use of Generative AI.

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Written by Tue 5 Dec 2023

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