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‘World-first’ quantum data centre to be built by Cisco and Nu Quantum

Written by Wed 31 Jan 2024

The UK Government has awarded Cisco and quantum networking start-up, Nu Quantum, a £2.3 million ($2.9 million) contract to deliver a ‘world-first’ quantum data centre prototype.

The Cambridge-based Nu Quantum said the new LYRA data centre project will deliver 19-inch rack-mount modules for control-plane and optical interfacing. 

The modular architecture of the quantum data centre will facilitate in-field upgrades, allowing users to make modifications without requiring extensive reconfiguration or system replacement. This architecture also supports various quantum computer modalities and alternative wavelengths, enhancing its adaptability to evolving quantum computing technologies.

The solution incorporates a new high-precision timing architecture and digital control bus, allowing the system to scale to support a large cluster of quantum-compute nodes. This scalability is necessary for handling complex computational tasks and expanding the capabilities of the quantum computing infrastructure.

Head of Co-Innovation at Cisco UK & Ireland, Peter Shearman, said he was excited to ‘accelerate the journey towards a modular qubit-agnostic and data centre-optimised future’.

“The potential of quantum computing is extremely exciting. However, it is increasingly accepted that to reach its potential quantum networking will be needed to scale quantum computing to a fault tolerant era,” said Shearman.

Quantum Computing to Tackle Real-World Problems

Nu Quantum said the ultimate goal of quantum computing is to tackle problems beyond the capabilities of even the most powerful classical computers. 

Commercially useful, fault tolerant quantum computers of any modality will require millions of physical qubits, surpassing current quantum computing capabilities by 1,000 to 10,000 times. A physical qubit is a two-state quantum system used in computing. It forms part of a larger system,  ensuring stability, error-correction, and fault tolerance necessary for computations.

Co-founder and CEO at Nu Quantum, Carmen Palacios, said LYRA is a ‘huge step forward in bringing quantum out of the lab and into real-world use’.

“LYRA takes the cornerstone quantum networking units from optical-bench to a deployable, prototype-product, capable of supporting test-bed integration with trapped-ion qubits and software stacks,” added Palacios.

Nu Quantum said there is an increasing recognition that real-world systems will be most efficiently architected by incorporating tens to thousands of computing cores or quantum processing units (QPUs) supported by quantum networking units (QNUs).

A computing core is a primary unit responsible for performing quantum computations. A QNU facilitates communication and interaction between parts of the quantum computing system.

The Nu Quantum and Cisco contract was awarded under the ‘SBRI: Quantum Networks, Enabling Components & Systems’ competition and is additional to other procurements contracts awarded by the UK Government in 2023.

“The award of this contract … is a perfect example of what we were seeking when we launched this SBRI competition earlier this year. Partnerships are as important as products to accelerate the development and adoption of this transformative technology,” said Roger McKinlay, Challenge Director for Quantum Technologies at UK Research and Innovation.

The competition aims to accelerate the development of enabling components and systems for quantum network technologies and build UK leadership in the emerging global market.

In May 2023, scientists at UK-based quantum computing company, Quantinuum, said they believed they had made a ‘breakthrough’ towards making quantum computing fault-tolerant. This development will give the system the ability to continue operating without interruption, even if one or more of its components fail.

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Written by Wed 31 Jan 2024

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