Quantum computing pioneer Rigetti Computing today launched Rigetti Quantum Cloud Services (QCS) – a complete platform for developing and running quantum algorithms that leverages Rigetti’s hybrid quantum-classical approach. The company also announced a $1 million prize for the first conclusive demonstration of so-called “quantum advantage” by a user on QCS. This follows last month announced of plans to build a 128-qubit computer based on a new chip architecture over the next 12 months.
“Three key capabilities are essential to achieving quantum advantage. First, users need more qubits with lower error rates. Second, users need computing systems designed to run the hybrid quantum-classical algorithms that offer the shortest path to quantum advantage. Finally, these capabilities must be delivered alongside a real programming environment so users can build and run true quantum software applications,” wrote Rigetti CEO Chad Regetti who announced the new offerings and prize on his blog.
Quantum advantage, says Rigetti, is the use of quantum computing technology to solve an important or valuable business problem better than any other technology. Quantum advantage areas targeted by Rigetti include, for example, quantum chemistry and machine learning, although no domain restrictions were announced.
“I don’t expect someone to solve the challenge in a month or two after it’s released,” said Will Zeng, an early member of the Rigetti team who currently has the interesting current title of Head of Evangelism and Special Projects. “It’s going to take bigger hardware for one thing. But I am also open to being surprised. We’ll share more detail about the prize towards the end of October.”
A summary of today’s news is below. However, HPCwire conducted a wide-ranging, pre-announcement interview with Zeng. In it he discussed Rigetti’s vertically integrated strategy (not its first choice); quantum computing technology made comprehensible (thank you Mr. Zeng); insight into Rigetti’s hybrid quantum-classical approach; more details of QCS; and offered a few comments on the strengths and weaknesses of competing qubit technologies. HPCwire will present full coverage of the interview next week.
The core of today’s announcement was a brief description of Rigetti’s new cloud platform which the company touts as, “The only quantum-first cloud computing platform.” QCS will be rolled out first to existing Rigetti partners in industry and academia through the remainder of the year and then offered more broadly throughout 2019. In building the new cloud platform Rigetti has made important changes in the way it integrates classical and quantum technology. Zeng says the tighter integration will reduce latency 20-to-50x.
Here are a few highlights:
- A dedicated quantum-classical resource.The virtualized environment being made available creates a dedicated Quantum Machine Image for each user. Every QMI comes pre-configured with Forest SDK and serves as a single access point to the QVM and QPU backends. Users can reserve the QPU when they’re ready using a simple command line interface.
- Proximity to the QPU.“With co-located classical and quantum hosts, jobs that once took seconds now take milliseconds. This low-latency network access to hardware makes QCS the fastest quantum computing platform available,” says Rigetti.
- Parametric programming.Custom control electronics open the possibility to have compiled program binaries that allow for dynamic inputs at run-time. “Faster iteration means getting to your solution sooner.”
Rigetti also identified a number of start-ups it is working with to develop applications and to act as a channel to distribute these applications to a broader community of developers and researchers. The companies include: 1QBit, Entropica Labs, Heisenberg Quantum Simulation, Horizon Quantum Computing, OTI Lumionics, ProteinQure, QC Ware, Qulab, QxBranch, Riverlane Research, Strangeworks, and Zapata Computing.