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!

Simulating Car Crashes with Supercomputers – and Lego

October 18, 2019

It’s an experiment many of us have carried out at home: crashing two Lego creations into each other, bricks flying everywhere. But for the researchers at the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) – which is comparabl Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

NASA Uses Deep Learning to Monitor Solar Weather

October 17, 2019

Solar flares may be best-known as sci-fi MacGuffins, but those flares – and other space weather – can have serious impacts on not only spacecraft and satellites, but also on Earth-based systems such as radio communic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Federated Learning Applied to Cancer Research

October 17, 2019

The ability to share and analyze data while protecting patient privacy is giving medical researchers a new tool in their efforts to use what one vendor calls “federated learning” to train models based on diverse data Read more…

By George Leopold

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

NSB 2020 S&E Indicators Dig into Workforce and Education

October 16, 2019

Every two years the National Science Board is required by Congress to issue a report on the state of science and engineering in the U.S. This year, in a departure from past practice, the NSB has divided the 2020 S&E Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Intel FPGAs: More Than Just an Accelerator Card

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

How Do We Power the New Industrial Revolution?

[Attend the IBM LSF, HPC & AI User Group Meeting at SC19 in Denver on November 19!]

Almost everyone is talking about artificial intelligence (AI). Read more…

What’s New in HPC Research: Rabies, Smog, Robots & More

October 14, 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

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

NSB 2020 S&E Indicators Dig into Workforce and Education

October 16, 2019

Every two years the National Science Board is required by Congress to issue a report on the state of science and engineering in the U.S. This year, in a departu Read more…

By John Russell

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Simulates Braking – on Mars

October 14, 2019

NASA is planning to send humans to Mars by the 2030s – and landing on the surface will be considerably trickier than landing a rover like Curiosity. To solve Read more…

By Staff report

Trovares Drives Memory-Driven, Property Graph Analytics Strategy with HPE

October 10, 2019

Trovares, a high performance property graph analytics company, has partnered with HPE and its Superdome Flex memory-driven servers on a cybersecurity capability the companies say “routinely” runs near-time workloads on 24TB-capacity systems... Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel, Lenovo Join Forces on HPC Cluster for Flatiron

October 9, 2019

An HPC cluster with deep learning techniques will be used to process petabytes of scientific data as part of workload-intensive projects spanning astrophysics to genomics. AI partners Intel and Lenovo said they are providing... Read more…

By George Leopold

Optimizing Offshore Wind Farms with Supercomputer Simulations

October 9, 2019

Offshore wind farms offer a number of benefits; many of the areas with the strongest winds are located offshore, and siting wind farms offshore ameliorates many of the land use concerns associated with onshore wind farms. Some estimates say that, if leveraged, offshore wind power... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Harvard Deploys Cannon, New Lenovo Water-Cooled HPC Cluster

October 9, 2019

Harvard's Faculty of Arts & Sciences Research Computing (FASRC) center announced a refresh of their primary HPC resource. The new cluster, called Cannon after the pioneering American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, is supplied by Lenovo... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. 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

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

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Bits: Neven’s Law (Who Asked for That), D-Wave’s Steady Push, IBM’s Li-O2- Simulation

July 3, 2019

Quantum computing’s (QC) many-faceted R&D train keeps slogging ahead and recently Japan is taking a leading role. Yesterday D-Wave Systems announced it ha Read more…

By John Russell

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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