IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

By John Russell

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s existing 20-quibit platform into a more robust, self-contained “package” embodying what will be required as quantum computers move from the lab to the workplace. System One’s glass enclosure is not only cool-looking but also a Faraday cage. Big Blue also announced expansion of the IBM Q Network of quantum collaborators – ExxonMobil, CERN, and Argonne National Laboratory are among the new members – and plans to open the first IBM Q Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, this year.

Rolling out the QC news at the Consumer Electronics Show may seem an odd choice, but then quantum computing is a little odd, and CES seems to be broadening from a consumer gadget extravaganza into a more expansive IT showcase. Regardless, the latest quantum news reflects Big Blue’s steady long-term effort not only to advance quantum computing research but also to push quantum computing towards commercialization and practical use. IBM is calling the new system, the ‘world’s first integrated quantum computer.’

“This project was begun over a year ago. We wanted to take a systems design approach to building a quantum computer. The goal of System One was to build a machine with a software stack that was automated in a way that we would do on a traditional machine, and we have all of the means of self-calibration, and the special purpose-built electronics to control the qubits and read them out,” said Bob Wisnieff, CTO quantum computing, IBM Research.

“You want to keep the overall system performing as stably as possible. [Final assembly and testing occurred] in October and November and it is it online now. Users have been using it for the last three or four weeks,” he said. This Q System One is located at the Thomas J Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. A second will be installed at the new Poughkeepsie center.

IBM Q System One is comprised of a number of custom components that work together including:

  • Quantum hardware designed to be stable and auto-calibrated to give repeatable and predictable high-quality qubits;
  • Cryogenic engineering that delivers a continuous cold and isolated quantum environment;
  • High precision electronics in compact form factors to tightly control large numbers of qubits;
  • Quantum firmware to manage the system health and enable system upgrades without downtime for users; and
  • Classical computation to provide secure cloud access and hybrid execution of quantum algorithms.

One challenge being tackled is the need to maintain the quality of qubits used to perform quantum computations. As noted in the official announcement, “Powerful yet delicate, qubits quickly lose their special quantum properties, typically within 100 microseconds (for state-of-the-art superconducting qubits), due in part to the interconnected machinery’s ambient noise of vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and electromagnetic waves. Protection from this interference is one of many reasons why quantum computers and their components require careful engineering and isolation.”

Q System One’s new ‘package’ includes a nine-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass “forming a sealed, airtight enclosure that opens effortlessly using “roto-translation,” a motor-driven rotation around two displaced axes engineered to simplify the system’s maintenance and upgrade process while minimizing downtime.”

Wisnieff noted, “We chose was a laminated glass such that the glass itself is able to absorb RF and at the top of the case there is metal so that it acts as an ideal Faraday cage with a ground plane above. You can think of it as we are creating a quality of space where we want to control all of the aspects that matter so the qubit can operate with the maximum success possible.”

A rendering of IBM Q System One, the world’s first fully integrated universal quantum computing system, currently installed at the Thomas J Watson Research Center. Source: IBM

Like all current quantum systems except for D-Wave’s, which can be purchased and located on-premise, IBM System Q One is meant to be accessed via the cloud. Wisnieff said the cloud paradigm is likely to be the dominant delivery mechanism for quantum computing for the foreseeable future. System Q One currently runs IBM’s fourth-generation, 20-quibit processor. Even though the system is designed to be more robust, and therefore a more reliable resource for IBM’s Q Network collaborators, Wisnieff suggests that keeping the system in-house will facilitate making upgrades in all areas.

In building the web-platform around System Q One, IBM has focused heavily on usability. Debugging, for example, is a particularly thorny issue because you can’t measure the state of a quantum system without changing it. Prior simulation of ‘quantum code’ run on traditional machines is necessary and may require specialized compute resources.

“You run a simulation of the algorithm on a conventional machine, [where] it is perfectly legal for me know to probe the state of the system to understand exactly what is going on. We’ve learned there’s a ten-to-one simulation to actual quantum run [typically] required,” he said. “We have a number of specialized simulators available. We refer to them as different back ends. So when users submit their codes, they specify the back end that they want to run on, depending upon what aspect of the system they are interested in testing.”

It’s hoped that eventually much of the underlying complexity of quantum computing (system behavior, non-intuitive algorithms, quantum coding) can be abstracted and hidden from domain scientists.

“We’re certainly not ready to do that across the board yet,” said Wisnieff. “One of the things we have already done is in quantum chemistry where we have allowed people to use the data files and data formats that typically would have been submitted to conventional tools to do quantum chemistry calculations. They can submit the same job to a conventional tool like a supercomputer or take that job and move it onto a quantum computer.

“Longterm, that’s exactly the way that you want that hierarchical abstraction to exist so that researchers feel they are using this as a resource and interchangeable to a certain degree in terms of how you submit jobs. Quantum chemistry turns out to be a great place for us to begin experiment with how we might do that,” he said.

Nearer-term, the goal everyone is chasing – besides just developing better and bigger (more qubits) machines – is quantum advantage; that’s the ability use quantum computers do something sufficiently better than classical machines to make the effort worthwhile. “We think there’s a high probability that next several years we are going to begin to find algorithms that we can implement on machines that we can build that will provide some advantage,” said Wisnieff.

In the meantime, the number of collaborators signing on with IBM to develop and use quantum computers is growing. The other portion of IBM’s CES announcements dealt with expansion of the IBM Q Network which IBM describes as “the world’s first community of Fortune 500 companies, startups, academic institutions and research labs working with IBM to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for business and science.”

Organizations joining the IBM Q Network include:

  • ExxonMobil, the first energy company to join the network, “will explore how quantum computing may address computationally challenging problems across a variety of applications. Quantum computing could more effectively solve large systems of linear equations, which will accelerate the development of more realistic simulations. Potential applications include optimizing a country’s power grid, more predictive environmental and highly accurate quantum chemistry calculations to enable the discovery of new materials for more efficient carbon capture.”
  • CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, “will work with IBM to explore how quantum computing may be used to advance scientific understanding of the universe. The project will bring together IBM and CERN scientists to investigate how to apply quantum machine learning techniques to classify collisions produced at the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.”

“These organizations will work directly with IBM scientists, engineers and consultants to explore quantum computing for specific industries. They will have cloud-based access to IBM Q systems, as they work to discover real-world problems that may be solved faster or more efficiently with a quantum computer versus a classical computer,” said Bob Sutor, vice president, IBM Q Strategy and Ecosystem.

The IBM Q Network provides its member organizations with quantum expertise and resources, quantum software and developer tools, as well as cloud-based access to IBM’s scalable commercial universal quantum computing systems available.

A subset of sorts to the IBM Q Network is IBM Q Hubs organization – you can see how hard IBM is working the IBM Q brand for its entire quantum ‘product’ line. The hubs are part of the IBM Q Network and have access to the IBM Q commercial systems, over the cloud, and focus on quantum computing education, research, development, and implementation.

“Many of our Hubs are government labs and universities. Part of their mission, too, is to partner with industry. The Hub at Keio University was the first to add members in 2017,” said IBM spokesman Chris Nay. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s IBM Q Hub, announced in 2017, recently added Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, and Fermilab. “This group has a more government/academic flavor although IBM encourages its members to work with industry as well,” said Nay.

Here’s IBM’s description of current ORNL hub members and their areas of focus:

  • Argonne National Laboratory “will develop quantum algorithms to help tackle challenges in chemistry and physics. New algorithms will also be used to model and simulate quantum network architectures and develop hybrid quantum-classical architectures, which combine the power of quantum processors with Argonne’s world-class supercomputing resources. Membership in the IBM Q hub will enable Argonne researchers to leverage their expertise in scalable algorithms across a broad set of multidisciplinary scientific applications and explore the impact of quantum computing on key areas including quantum chemistry and quantum materials.”
  • “Fermilab “will use quantum computers for machine learning to classify objects in large cosmology survey applications, as well as optimization techniques to better understand the results of hadron collisions, and quantum simulation to research the potential of studying neutrino-nucleon cross-sections.”
  • “Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory “will use IBM Q systems as part of its quantum information science research to develop and simulate a variety of algorithms for studying strong correlation, environmental coupling, and excited state dynamics in molecular complexes and materials; novel error mitigation and circuit optimization techniques; and theories resembling the standard model in high-energy physics.”

IBM reports ORNL will use quantum computers along with high-performance supercomputers to benchmark new methods for studying strongly correlated dynamics in quantum materials, chemistry, and nuclear physics.

In addition, to the IBM Q Network and Hub, IBM also offers the no-cost and publicly available IBM Q Experience now supports more than 100,000 users, who have run more than 6.7 million experiments and published more than 130 third-party research papers. Developers have also downloaded Qiskit, a full-stack, open-source quantum software development kit, more than 140,000 times to create and run quantum computing programs.

Link to IBM Q System One announcement: https://newsroom.ibm.com/2019-01-08-IBM-Unveils-Worlds-First-Integrated-Quantum-Computing-System-for-Commercial-Use

Link to IBM Q Network announcement: https://newsroom.ibm.com/2019-01-08-ExxonMobil-and-Worlds-Leading-Research-Labs-Collaborate-with-IBM-to-Accelerate-Joint-Research-in-Quantum-Computing

Slide show on IBM Q System One: https://www.research.ibm.com/ibm-q/system-one/

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!

Talk to Me: Nvidia Claims NLP Inference, Training Records

August 15, 2019

Nvidia says it’s achieved significant advances in conversation natural language processing (NLP) training and inference, enabling more complex, immediate-response interchanges between customers and chatbots. And the co Read more…

By Doug Black

Trump Administration and NIST Issue AI Standards Development Plan

August 14, 2019

Efforts to develop AI are gathering steam fast. On Monday, the White House issued a federal plan to help develop technical standards for AI following up on a mandate contained in the Administration’s AI Executive Order Read more…

By John Russell

Scientists to Tap Exascale Computing to Unlock the Mystery of our Accelerating Universe

August 14, 2019

The universe and everything in it roared to life with the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. It has continued expanding ever since. While we have a good understanding of the early universe, its fate billions Read more…

By Rob Johnson

AWS Solution Channel

Efficiency and Cost-Optimization for HPC Workloads – AWS Batch and Amazon EC2 Spot Instances

High Performance Computing on AWS leverages the power of cloud computing and the extreme scale it offers to achieve optimal HPC price/performance. With AWS you can right size your services to meet exactly the capacity requirements you need without having to overprovision or compromise capacity. Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the combined power of HPC and AI to your business transformation

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) acceleration cards are not new, as they’ve been commercially available since 1984. Typically, the emphasis around FPGAs has centered on the fact that they’re programmable accelerators, and that they can truly offer workload specific hardware acceleration solutions without requiring custom silicon. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Cloudy with a Chance of Mainframes

[Connect with HPC users and learn new skills in the IBM Spectrum LSF User Community.]

Rapid rates of change sometimes result in unexpected bedfellows. Read more…

Argonne Supercomputer Accelerates Cancer Prediction Research

August 13, 2019

In the fight against cancer, early prediction, which drastically improves prognoses, is critical. Now, new research by a team from Northwestern University – and accelerated by supercomputing resources at Argonne Nation Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Scientists to Tap Exascale Computing to Unlock the Mystery of our Accelerating Universe

August 14, 2019

The universe and everything in it roared to life with the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. It has continued expanding ever since. While we have a Read more…

By Rob Johnson

AI is the Next Exascale – Rick Stevens on What that Means and Why It’s Important

August 13, 2019

Twelve years ago the Department of Energy (DOE) was just beginning to explore what an exascale computing program might look like and what it might accomplish. Today, DOE is repeating that process for AI, once again starting with science community town halls to gather input and stimulate conversation. The town hall program... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader and John Russell

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lenovo Drives Single-Socket Servers with AMD Epyc Rome CPUs

August 7, 2019

No summer doldrums here. As part of the AMD Epyc Rome launch event in San Francisco today, Lenovo announced two new single-socket servers, the ThinkSystem SR635 Read more…

By Doug Black

Building Diversity and Broader Engagement in the HPC Community

August 7, 2019

Increasing diversity and inclusion in HPC is a community-building effort. Representation of both issues and individuals matters - the more people see HPC in a w Read more…

By AJ Lauer

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

Upcoming NSF Cyberinfrastructure Projects to Support ‘Long-Tail’ Users, AI and Big Data

August 5, 2019

The National Science Foundation is well positioned to support national priorities, as new NSF-funded HPC systems to come online in the upcoming year promise to Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

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

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

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

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

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

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
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

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

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce 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

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive

June 7, 2019

Investors are zeroing in on the open standard RISC-V instruction set architecture and the processor intellectual property being developed by a batch of high-flying chip startups. Last fall, Esperanto Technologies announced a $58 million funding round. Read more…

By George Leopold

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