Quantum Computer Simulation: New World Record on JUGENE

By Markus Henkel

June 28, 2010

The civil engineer Konrad Zuse was born in Berlin exactly 100 years ago. In 1941, he built the world’s first computer. And thanks to his pioneering work, the scientists at the Jülich Supercomputing Center have now succeeded in setting a world record by simulating the largest quantum computer system with 42 qubits. As yet, only small prototypes of quantum computers exist in laboratories, with a capacity of a few bits. This is now going to change.

Compared to the so-called quantum computers, today’s supercomputers would simply look old. A new project is aiming to catapult these impressive machines out of the realm of the hypothetical and into reality, or at least to raise the hope that such computers will not just be sketches on paper.

Low value, large effect

To understand the extent of the accomplishment, you have to grasp the underlying principle of a quantum system. “The computing power of a quantum computer grows exponentially with its size,” says Prof. Dr. Kristel Michielsen from the Jülich Supercomputing Center, and who heads the Institute for Advanced Simulation. “If a quantum computer is expanded by just one single computer bit, its computing power is immediately doubled due to the laws of quantum mechanics on which it is based.”

By contrast, the computing power of a classical computer only grows linearly with its components. Ten percent more transistors only means ten percent more performance, at best.

The qubit is still the smallest unit for quantum computers; however, they offer quite different possibilities. While the traditional 8-bit byte can represent 256 different values, quantum bytes have over 65,535 independent states. For computational operations, quantum computers use atoms and subatomic particles as transmission units. They are both the memory and the executing computational unit. This property would allow such a computer to perform computational operations simultaneously, to take on highly scientific tasks, and to control the cand decryption of data streams.

This last function is already no longer a secret in the world of cryptography. Since Phil Zimmermann placed his PGP encryption on the Internet with free access for everyone in 1991, anyone can easily encrypt their data stream. This cryptographic undertaking is naturally a thorn in the side of intelligence agencies because terrorists are also able to use it.

JUGENE: Europe’s fastest supercomputer
JUGENE supercomputer
Of course, if you want to simulate a quantum computer using a traditional computer, you soon run up against limitations. For a 42-qubit simulation, you need machines like the Jülich supercomputer. JUGENE is the fastest computer in Europe with almost 300,000 processors and a computing power of one quadrillion floating point operations per second. One billion people would each have to perform one million calculations per second on a calculator to get anywhere near as fast as that. On this machine, scientists succeeded in running Shor’s algorithm, one of the most common test applications for quantum computers, with 42 computer bits factorizing 15,707 into 113×139. “The simulation can now factorize numbers that are about a thousand times larger than those previously possible with experimental quantum computers,” says Michielsen proudly.

The simulation was built by enhancing existing software. When so many processors work together, it may easily be the case that threads are waiting for each other, leading to performance loss. The Jülich software is optimized to allow thousands of processors to work together seamlessly. Codes like this are able to scale almost perfectly. Scaling is the term computer scientists use to describe the property of software such that it is able to convert processors into computational performance in a linear manner.

Jülich is also at the heart of the QPACE project (QCD Parallel Computing on the Cell). In the future, the supercomputer center will come into even “greater consideration” for larger projects involving several research institutes. An international consortium consisting of six German and Italian universities and research centers plans to calculate simulations in quantum chromodynamics (QCD), a field of elementary physics. QCD describes how protons are built up of quarks and gluons. The work in this field can also help increase the understanding of the the fundamental forces of the universe. Here too, IBM, or more precisely IBM’s research and development center in Böblingen, Germany, is also supporting the prototype of a research computer that can handle such simulations.

Jülich’s red carpet
 
The QPACE concept consists of a network of programmable components, the so-called “field programmable gate arrays” (FPGAs) that connect processors to a powerful, scalable research computer. The prototype is intended to reach a maximum performance of up to 200 teraflops. Due to the scalability of the network employed, it is theoretically possible to increase the performance up into the petaflop range.

But quantum physics is not only an issue at Jülich. Quantum research has long since been an international business. It was the Danes who, as it were, rolled out Jülich’s red carpet in 2008. Dr. Henrik Ingerslev Jørgensen from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen succeeded in getting qubits to interact with each other. His results gave the first glimpse into understanding the interaction of two electrons lying next to each other in carbon nanotubes, which are tiny tubes made up of graphite layers.

A glance into the future
 
“Quantum computers are still a fascinating vision – nothing more,” says Michael Malms, head of High Performance Computing at the German IBM research and development center in Böblingen. “But if we look at the technical evolution that has been successful in a relatively short time in the area of high performance computing and project that into the future, then we cannot exclude the possibility that quantum computers too will one day become a reality.”

No doubt Konrad Zuse would be amazed if he were able to look at the cutting edge of computing research today. And it’s not just quantum computing. Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot in Israel are conducting research into the possibility of using synthetic genetic “snippets” as software. Enzymes that read, split and join DNA form the hardware. Then based on the aggregate number of such “computers,” they are able to parallelize computations. About three trillion such molecular computers are packed into a drop of water, and since they work simultaneously, they can theoretically perform 66 billion operations per drop. Zuse would have loved to hear this “pitter-pattering” of computing.

About the Author

Markus Henkel is a geodesist, science writer and lives in Hamburg, Germany. He writes about supercomputing, environmental protection and clinical medicine. For more information, email him at [email protected] or visit the Web site: http://laengsynt.de.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

ISC 2019 Student Cluster Competition: Meet the Teams!

June 25, 2019

Finally! The videos have been rendered, the statistics compiled, and the story lines set. It’s time to share with you the incredible event that was the ISC 2019 Student Cluster Competition. So what’s a Student Clu Read more…

By Dan Olds

What’s New in HPC Research: Rock Art, Protein Design, Genome Assembly & More

June 25, 2019

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Benchmarks HC-series Across 20,000 cores for HPC

June 25, 2019

Cloud provider Microsoft Azure’s push into HPC continues to gain momentum. In a blog last week, Evan Burness, principal program manager, Azure HPC, announced HC-series Virtual Machine are now available in West US 2 and Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

For decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Rediscovering the Value of the Past

Some people would like to forget their past, perhaps for good reasons. But for business or research organizations, preserving institutional memory can be the key to thriving in the future. Read more…

MLPerf Expands Toolset; Launches Inferencing Suite

June 24, 2019

MLPerf today launched a benchmark suite for inferencing, v0.5, which joins the MLPerf training suite launched a little over a year ago. The new inferencing benchmark, which has been anticipated, covers models applicable Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2019 Student Cluster Competition: Meet the Teams!

June 25, 2019

Finally! The videos have been rendered, the statistics compiled, and the story lines set. It’s time to share with you the incredible event that was the ISC 20 Read more…

By Dan Olds

MLPerf Expands Toolset; Launches Inferencing Suite

June 24, 2019

MLPerf today launched a benchmark suite for inferencing, v0.5, which joins the MLPerf training suite launched a little over a year ago. The new inferencing benc Read more…

By John Russell

Is Weather and Climate Prediction the Perfect ‘Pilot’ for Exascale?

June 21, 2019

At ISC 2019 this week, Peter Bauer – deputy director of research for the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) – outlined an ambitious Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

ISC Keynote: Thomas Sterling’s Take on Whither HPC

June 20, 2019

Entertaining, insightful, and unafraid to launch the occasional verbal ICBM, HPC pioneer Thomas Sterling delivered his 16th annual closing keynote at ISC yesterday. He explored, among other things: exascale machinations; quantum’s bubbling money pot; Arm’s new HPC viability; Europe’s... Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Claims No. 1 Commercial Supercomputer with Total Oil & Gas System 

June 20, 2019

IBM can now boast not only the two most powerful supercomputers in the world, it also has claimed the top spot for a supercomputer used in a commercial setting. Read more…

By Staff Report

HPC on Pace for 5-Year 6.8% CAGR; Guess Which Hyperscaler Spent $10B on IT Last Year?

June 20, 2019

In the neck-and-neck horse race for HPC server market share, HPE has hung on to a slim, shrinking lead over Dell EMC – but if server and storage market shares Read more…

By Doug Black

ISC 2019 Research Paper Award Winners Announced

June 19, 2019

At the 2019 International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this week, the ISC committee awarded the event's top prizes for outstanding research pape Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

ISC Keynote: The Algorithms of Life – Scientific Computing for Systems Biology

June 19, 2019

Systems biology has existed loosely under many definitions for a couple of decades. It’s the notion of describing living systems using first-principle physics Read more…

By John Russell

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Announcing four new HPC capabilities in Google Cloud Platform

April 15, 2019

When you’re running compute-bound or memory-bound applications for high performance computing or large, data-dependent machine learning training workloads on Read more…

By Wyatt Gorman, HPC Specialist, Google Cloud; Brad Calder, VP of Engineering, Google Cloud; Bart Sano, VP of Platforms, Google Cloud

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Claims 6000x Speed-Up for Stock Trading Backtest Benchmark

May 13, 2019

A stock trading backtesting algorithm used by hedge funds to simulate trading variants has received a massive, GPU-based performance boost, according to Nvidia, Read more…

By Doug Black

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This