IBM advances quantum utility era with IBM Quantum System Two

The company is committed to ‘branching out’ to enhance quantum computing, announcing a next-generation quantum processor and IBM Quantum System Two

IBM is working to extend its roadmap to advance an era of quantum utility via ‘IBM Quantum Heron’ and ‘IBM Quantum System Two’.

At the annual IBM Quantum Summit in New York, the company debuted ‘IBM Quantum Heron’ - the first in a new series of utility scale quantum processors. It holds an architecture engineered to deliver IBM’s highest performance metrics and lowest error rates of any IBM Quantum processor to date.

Additionally, IBM unveiled IBM Quantum System Two - the company’s first modular quantum computer and cornerstone of IBM’s quantum-centric supercomputing architecture. Located in Yorktown Heights, New York, it has begun operations with three IBM Heron processors and supporting control electronics.

Understanding quantum computing at scale

IBM Quantum operates with the ethos of making the world quantum safe, as well as useful. According to the company, useful quantum computation requires utility-scale hardware and co-designed scalable software capabilities. The company has recently made plenty of announcements in the world of AI and quantum computing, having recently extended its collaboration with NASA to expand upon its geospatial mapping technology.

With a critical foundation now in place, along with other breakthroughs in quantum hardware, theory, and software, the company is now working to extend its IBM Quantum Development Roadmap to 2033. 

The expansion of this roadmap over the next ten years prioritises advancing the quality of gate operations to scale with quality towards advanced error-corrected systems. Within these new targets, the goal is to increase the size of quantum circuits and help realise the full potential of quantum computing at scale.

In particular, IBM Quantum Heron is being released as the company’s most performant quantum processor in the world, with newly built architecture that seeks to offer significant improvements in error reduction.

IBM Quantum systems can now serve as a scientific tool to explore utility-scale classes of problems in chemistry, physics, and materials beyond brute force classical simulation of quantum mechanics. This includes experiments already running on the new IBM Quantum Heron 133-qubit processor, which IBM is making available for users via the cloud. Additional IBM Heron processors will join IBM’s industry-leading, utility-scale fleet of systems over the course of the next year.   

“We are firmly within the era in which quantum computers are being used as a tool to explore new frontiers of science,” says Dario Gil, IBM SVP and Director of Research. “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 – and put it into the hands of our users and partners who will push the boundaries of more complex problems.”   

Utilising generative AI to increase ease of quantum programming

In addition, the introduction of IBM Quantum System Two acts as the foundation of IBM’s next generation quantum computing system architecture. The new system acts as a building block for IBM’s vision of quantum-centric supercomputing. 

Furthermore, this architecture combines quantum communication and computation, assisted by classical computing resources, as well as leveraging a middleware layer to integrate quantum and classical workflows.  

As part of the newly expanded ten-year roadmap, IBM plans for this system to house IBM’s future generations of quantum processors. These future processors are intended to gradually improve the quality of operations they can run to significantly extend both the complexity and size of workloads they are capable of handling.

All of these tools aim to provide the building blocks for users to build and run quantum algorithms more easily. Users will be able to build, deploy and execute workflows that integrate classical and quantum computation in different environments. 

IBM is also pioneering the use of generative AI for quantum code programming through watsonx. The company is working to integrate generative AI available through watsonx to help automate the development of quantum code for Qiskit. This will be achieved via fine-tuning the IBM Granite model series.  

“Generative AI and quantum computing are both reaching an inflection point, presenting us with the opportunity to use the trusted foundation model framework of watsonx to simplify how quantum algorithms can be built for utility-scale exploration,” says Jay Gambetta, Vice President and IBM Fellow at IBM.

“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.”  

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