D-Wave Is Latest to Offer Quantum Cloud Platform

By John Russell

October 4, 2018

D-Wave Systems today launched its cloud platform for quantum computing – Leap – which combines a development environment, community features, and “real-time” access to a D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer including one minute of free runtime or enough time to run 400-4,000 experiments according to D-Wave. This is the second such announcement in a month. Rigetti Computing launched its Quantum Cloud Services (QCS) in early September. Longtime quantum player IBM launched its cloud offering, the IBM Q Experience, back in 2016.

The idea all three companies share is to leverage cloud delivery of training and quantum compute time to accelerate development of a quantum computing ecosystem, particularly among developers and users unfamiliar with quantum computing.

“We’d like to sort of unlock the power of quantum computing for potentially hundreds of thousands of developers who have heard about quantum computing and they want to move in the direction to build and run their own quantum applications,” said Murray Thom, D-Wave director of software and cloud services, in a pre-launch briefing with HPCwire that included access to the Leap platform. Thom is a 16-year veteran of D-Wave, which itself is coming up on 20 years (founded in 1999). “My quantum experience is now old enough to drive,” he jested.

To Thom’s latter point, a lingering question for quantum computing is not whether it is old enough but whether it is (nearly) ready enough to leave the garage and drive onto main roadways. The cloud offerings make taking quantum computing test drives much easier.

Of the varying approaches to quantum computing, D-Wave’s quantum annealing approach is among the furthest along. The company was founded in 1999 and notes on its website, “[D-Wave] systems are being used by world-class organizations and institutions including Lockheed Martin, Google, NASA, USC, USRA, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Volkswagen, and many others. D-Wave has been granted over 160 U.S. patents and has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals.”

IBM, the granddaddy of the quantum pack with related research stretching back to the 70s, says its “cloud IBM Q Experience has more than 97,000 users who have run more than 6 million experiments. And more than 120 research papers have been published based on experiments run on these systems. The IBM Q Experience is also part of the curriculum at more than 1,500 universities, 300 high schools, and 300 private institutions.”

While those market traction and research activity numbers are impressive, in practical terms quantum computer capacity (number of qubits) and reliability remain problematic. Currently, IBM Q offers 5-qubit and 16-qubit processors. Rigetti offers a 16-qubit processor with plans to scale it up to 128 qubits within roughly a year. There is broad agreement in the quantum computing community that many more qubits are needed to tackle practical applications.

D-Wave 2000Q chip

The D-Wave 2000Q used by Leap is a 2,000-qubit machine and significantly larger than those of its rivals. That said, D-Wave’s quantum annealing technology is very different from gate-based models (universal quantum computers.) Within the constraints of its quantum annealing approach, D-Wave systems are very well-suited for solving problems in optimization, machine learning, and materials sciences says the company. It’s been racing to stimulate development of applications.

So far, none of the quantum computing suppliers or their pioneering users have demonstrated so-called “quantum advantage” – applications in which quantum computers are distinctly better than classical computers. But that day is coming, perhaps soon, they all believe. Rigetti is even offering a $1 million prize for the first to do so on its QCS.

D-Wave continued to beat the application progress drum in today’s Leap announcement, “To date, D-Wave customers have developed 100 early applications for problems spanning airline scheduling, election modeling, quantum chemistry simulation, automotive design, preventative healthcare, logistics and more. Many have also developed software tools that make it easier to develop new applications. These existing applications, tools, and community give developers a wealth of examples to learn from and build upon.”

In what Thom called a ‘happy coincidence’ Leap is being launched during a D-Wave user group meeting in Knoxville, TN. “This is our fourth user group meeting. We started in 2016. Last year there was one in Washington, DC. There are on the order of 80 customers, developers, and researchers who come to talk about tools and methods for programming and applications,” he said.

Here are a few Leap highlights:

  • Free access: free, real-time access to a D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer to submit and run applications, receiving solutions in seconds.
  • Familiar software: the open-source Ocean software development kit (SDK), available on GitHub and in Leap, has built-in templates for algorithms, as well as the ability to develop new code with the familiar programming language Python.
  • Hands-on coding: interactive examples in the form of Jupyter notebooks with live code, equations, visualizations and narrative text to jumpstart quantum application development.
  • Learning resources: comprehensive live demos and educational resources to help. developers get up to speed quickly on how to write applications for a quantum computer
  • Community support: community and technical forums to enable easy developer collaboration.

“Even at launch the system is prepared to handle tens of thousands of users,” said Thom. “We have a quantum computing system, which is the primary online system available for this, and we also have a secondary quantum computing system available as backup. The Leap front end is hosted on Amazon but it’s built to run in any public cloud. The users will not be charged nor do they need accounts.” 

HPCwire’s brief session on Leap suggested it’s an easy-to-navigate platform rich in resources for relative novices and those more experienced with quantum computing concepts. Attracting users steeped in traditional HPC and cluster computing paradigms and enabling them to engage in quantum computing without getting bogged down in quantum theory is a major goal. It’s one of the reasons, for example, D-Wave’s tools are Python-based.

Thom said, “Right up front [on the Leap dashboard] we made available information where they can learn about Leap, about case studies, about quantum application development, also information and tutorials about quantum computing, a tour of our laboratory, and some really interesting videos that our customers have put up about their projects.” The price for free access to Leap, said Thom, was a requirement that all software developed on the cloud platform be put into open source. Software developed offline but run online need not be. Users can upgrade from their allotted one minute of free time to paid time starting at $2,000/hr.

With three quantum cloud platforms now available, it will be interesting to see whether development efforts do indeed accelerate and begin to generate new applications. One can imagine researchers kicking the tires on all three platforms.

Thom said, “I’ve already begun to see that in terms of researchers who have been looking to get access to multiple systems trying to see if they can find problem instances they can run on multiple platforms. I don’t suspect that will be every user. I think that people will gravitate towards opportunities to learn more about the system and opportunities to leverage the platforms to actually get work done. I think they will probably very quickly gravitate to those types of environments well suited for their applications.”

Leap will initially be a development platform – no one is truly using quantum computing yet for ‘production’ purposes – but it was designed to support production requirements. “We anticipated there will always be some customers who are interested in or required to have their own systems in-house and other customers who are interested in basically having their systems hooked in remotely and being able to access that way. Having said that, I anticipate the platform will evolve as the community is developing applications and we start to learn more about their use cases and their workflows and data and we’ll evolve this system to adapt to that,” said Thom.

Quantum industry watcher Bob Sorensen, VP of Research and Technology, Hyperion Research, said Leap is an important step in the right direction. “I see D-Wave’s new software infrastructure as a significant advancement in moving quantum computing away from the realm of being seen as mysterious to where software developers don’t have to fully appreciate the underlying quantum physics to work on QC algorithms and applications in a more familiar traditional programming environment. This can only encourage the proliferation of QC software developers and compelling QC-based use cases.”

The proof will be in the payoff. Thom noted two milestones.

“When the growth of the community reaches a critical size there’s likely to be an emergence of sophisticated, shared open source software being used for programming these systems. More than likely, people within that community will start to making demonstrations where they can say in this particularly application domain I can do better than industry. That would be a very significant milestone. There will also be a milestone where someone discovers the equivalent of a quantum killer app. That’s going to lead to a demonstration of quantum advantage with the application. The progression of the quantum industry will rapidly change at that point.”

Link to D-Wave announcement: https://www.dwavesys.com/press-releases/d-wave-launches-leap-first-real-time-quantum-application-environment

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!

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fugaku, Congress, De Novo Design & More

July 2, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time last year, IBM announced open sourcing its Power instructio Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Career Notes: July 2020 Edition

July 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it's a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we've got Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

Supercomputers Enable Radical, Promising New COVID-19 Drug Development Approach

July 1, 2020

Around the world, innumerable supercomputers are sifting through billions of molecules in a desperate search for a viable therapeutic to treat COVID-19. Those molecules are pulled from enormous databases of known compoun Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC-Powered Simulations Reveal a Looming Climatic Threat to Vital Monsoon Seasons

June 30, 2020

As June draws to a close, eyes are turning to the latter half of the year – and with it, the monsoon and hurricane seasons that can prove vital or devastating for many of the world’s coastal communities. Now, climate Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This year is no different though the conversion of ISC to a digital Read more…

By John Russell

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hoefler’s Whirlwind ISC20 Virtual Tour of ML Trends in 9 Slides

June 23, 2020

The ISC20 experience this year via livestreaming and pre-recordings is interesting and perhaps a bit odd. That said presenters’ efforts to condense their comments makes for economic use of your time. Torsten Hoefler’s whirlwind 12-minute tour of ML is a great example. Hoefler, leader of the planned ISC20 Machine Learning... Read more…

By John Russell

At ISC, the Fight Against COVID-19 Took the Stage – and Yes, Fugaku Was There

June 23, 2020

With over nine million infected and nearly half a million dead, the COVID-19 pandemic has seized the world’s attention for several months. It has also dominat Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers


Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

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