D-Wave Previews Next-Gen Platform; Debuts Pegasus Topology; Targets 5000 Qubits

By John Russell

February 27, 2019

Quantum computing pioneer D-Wave Systems today “previewed” plans for its next-gen adiabatic annealing quantum computing platform which will feature a new underlying fab technology, reduced noise, increased connectivity, 5000-qubit processors, and an expanded toolset for creation of hybrid quantum-classical applications. The company plans to “incrementally” roll out platform elements over the next 18 months.

One major change is implementation of a new topology, Pegasus, in which each qubit is connected to 15 other qubits making it “the most connected of any commercial quantum system in the world,” according to D-Wave. In the current topology, Chimera, each qubit is connected to six other qubits. The roughly 2.5x jump in connectivity will enable users to tackle larger problems with fewer qubits and achieve better performance reports D-Wave.

“The reason we are announcing the preview now is because we will be making this technology available incrementally over the next 18 months and we wanted to provide a framework,” Alan Baratz, executive vice president, R&D and Chief Product Officer, D-Wave, told HPCwire. The plan, he said, is “to start by talking about the new topology now, how it fits into the whole. Then we’ll be announcing new tools, how they fit in. Next you’ll start to see some of the new low noise technology – that will initially be on our current generation system and you’ll see that in the cloud.” The final piece will be early versions of the 5000-qubit next generation systems.

It’s an ambitious plan. Identifying significant milestones now, but without specific dates, is an interesting gambit. Starting now, users can use D-Wave’s Ocean development tools which include compilers for porting of problems into the Pegasus topology. D-Wave launched its cloud-accessed development platform last fall – LEAP – and many of the new features and tools will show up there first (see HPCwire article, D-Wave Is Latest to Offer Quantum Cloud Platform).

Bob Sorensen, VP of research and technology and chief analyst for quantum computing, Hyperion

Bob Sorensen, chief analyst for quantum computing at Hyperion Research, had a positive reaction to D-Wave’s plan, “This announcement indicates that D-Wave continues to advance the state of the art in its quantum computing efforts. Although the increase from 2000 to 5000 qubits is impressive in itself, what strikes me is the new Pegasus topology. I expect that this increased connectivity will prove to be a major driver of new, interesting, and heretofore unrealizable QC algorithms and applications. Finally, I think it is important to note that D-Wave continues to listen to its wide, growing, and increasingly experienced customer base to help guide D-Wave’s future system designs. Being able to tap into the collective expertise of such a user base continues to be a critical element driving the evolution of D-Wave systems.”

Altogether, says D-Wave, the features of its next-gen system are expected to accelerate the race for commercial relevance and so-called quantum advantage – the goal of solving a problem sufficiently better on a quantum computer than on a classical computer to warrant switching to quantum computing for that application. D-Wave has aggressively marketed its success selling machines to commercial and government customers and says those users have developed “more than 100 early applications in areas as diverse as airline scheduling, election modeling, quantum chemistry simulation, automotive design, preventative healthcare, logistics and more.” How ready those apps are is sometimes debated. In any case, Baratz expects the next gen platform to have enough power (compute, developer tools, etc.) to lead to demonstrating customer advantage.

Sorensen is more circumspect about quantum advantage’s importance, “To my mind, the issue of quantum advantage is not a critical one. I really don’t think most users care about a somewhat artificial milestone. What matters is the development of algorithms/applications that bring a new capability to an existing problem or offer some significant speed-up over an existing application. Give a user 50X performance improvement and he/she is not going to lose much sleep debating quantum advantage.

“Bottom line. If at some point the headline reads, “Company Z demonstrates quantum advantage in algorithm X,” what will that mean to the existing and potential QC user base writ large? Not much I suspect. Not without a spate of algorithms to back it up.”

Here are marketing bullet points as excerpted from D-Wave’s announcement:

  • New Topology: Pegasus is the most connected of any commercial quantum system in the world. Each qubit is connected to 15 other qubits (compared to Chimera’s 6), giving it 2.5x more connectivity. It enables embedding of larger problems with fewer physical qubits. The D-Wave Ocean software development kit (SDK) includes tools for generating the Pegasus topology. Interested users can try embedding their problems on Pegasus.
  • “Lower Noise: next generation system will include the lowest noise commercially-available quantum processing units (QPUs) ever produced by D-Wave. This new QPU fabrication technology improves system performance and solution precision to pave the way to greater speedups.
  • “Increased Qubit Count: with more than 5000 qubits, the next generation platform will more than double the qubit count of the existing D-Wave 2000Q. Gives programmers access to a larger, denser, more powerful graph for building commercial quantum applications.
  • “Expansion of Hybrid Software & Tools: Investments in ease-of-use, automation and provide a more powerful hybrid development environment building upon D-Wave Hybrid. Allows allowing developers to run across classical and the next-generation quantum platforms in Python and other common languages. Modular approach incorporates logic to simplify distribution, allowing developers to interrupt processing and synchronize across systems to draw maximum computing power out of each system.
  • “Ongoing Releases: components of the D-Wave next generation quantum platform will come to market between now and mid-2020 via ongoing QPU and software updates available through the cloud. The complete system will be available through cloud and on-premise in mid-2020. Users can get explore a simulation of the new Pegasus topology today.

D-Wave didn’t reveal much detail of the enabling technology advances. Mark Johnson, VP, processor design & development said, “In terms of the integrated circuit we have basically redone the stack and that allowed us to make the design more compact. It also allowed us to get more connectivity. We are also making changes within that stack to reduce the intrinsic contribution to noise and decoherence from the materials. We’re not going to be talking about the recipe, just realize it is a fundamental technology node change, [with] new materials, a new fabrication processes, a new stack.”

Baratz said, “I’d add only that the new materials and processes are not just ‘in design’. We’ve actually used them on our current generation system, our 2000 qubit system. We’ve rebuilt it, using this newer technology stack, have several of them operating in our lab now, and are seeing the results from it we expected to see.”

D-Wave 2000Q System

The lower noise technology, said Baratz, will enable longer coherence times and higher quality solutions. The new operating software “will be designed specifically to support hybrid applications and that means we will be significantly reducing latency. This is important for hybrid applications where you run part classically and send to the quantum processors, get the result, run classically, and back and forth,” he said. For LEAP users, D-Wave will also offer new scheduling options so instead of having to run in a queue, users can reserve blocks of time if necessary to run a longer applications.

A brief review on the D-Wave approach may be useful. It differs rather dramatically from the universal gate-based model. With a gate-model quantum computer you have to specify the sequence of instructions and gates required to solve the problem. In that sense it’s a bit more like programming a classical system where you have to specify the sequence of instructions.

“For our system you don’t do that,” said Baratz. “All you do is specify the problem in a mathematical formulation that our system understands. It understands two different formulations. One of them is the quadratic binary optimization problem. The other is an Ising optimization problem. It’s basically a well-defined mathematical construct. So really programming our system has nothing to do with physics, nothing to do with qubits, nothing to do with entanglement, nothing to do with tuning with pulses; it is about mapping your problem into this mathematical formulation. It’s more like a declarative programing model where you don’t really have to specify the sequence of instruction. As a result it’s much easier to program.”

This description of how D-Wave systems work, taken from D-Wave’s site, may be helpful:

“In nature, physical systems tend to evolve toward their lowest energy state: objects slide down hills, hot things cool down, and so on. This behavior also applies to quantum systems. To imagine this, think of a traveler looking for the best solution by finding the lowest valley in the energy landscape that represents the problem.

“Classical algorithms seek the lowest valley by placing the traveler at some point in the landscape and allowing that traveler to move based on local variations. While it is generally most efficient to move downhill and avoid climbing hills that are too high, such classical algorithms are prone to leading the traveler into nearby valleys that may not be the global minimum. Numerous trials are typically required, with many travelers beginning their journeys from different points.

‘In contrast, quantum annealing begins with the traveler simultaneously occupying many coordinates thanks to the quantum phenomenon of superposition. The probability of being at any given coordinate smoothly evolves as annealing progresses, with the probability increasing around the coordinates of deep valleys. Quantum tunneling allows the traveler to pass through hills—rather than be forced to climb them—reducing the chance of becoming trapped in valleys that are not the global minimum. Quantum entanglement further improves the outcome by allowing the traveler to discover correlations between the coordinates that lead to deep valleys.”

Like its quantum computing rivals IBM and Rigetti, D-Wave is betting heavily on cloud-delivery as both a means for attracting and training QC users as well as offering production capability. Of course, D-Wave is still the only vendor selling systems outright for on premise, though IBM’s new IBM Q System One seems to be a step in that direction.

D-Wave has made it quite easy to create a LEAP account. Users can get one minute of free time to try out the system and one minute per month on an ongoing basis for free if they agree to open source any work created. Baratz says a minute of time buys more than you think (~400-to-4,000 experiments). Fees for commercial use start at $2,000 per hour per month with discounts if you sign up for longer periods of time.

No doubt quantum watchers will monitor how well and how timely D-Wave delivers on its promise. There has been no shortage of optimism from the QC development community (vendor and academia). Likewise the recent $1.25 billion U.S. Quantum Initiative, passed in December, has added to the chorus of those arguing there’s a global quantum computing race with high stakes at risk. We’ll see.

Feature Image: Illustration of Pegasus connectivity, Source: D-Wave Systems

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!

RPI Powers Up ‘AiMOS’ AI Supercomputer

December 11, 2019

Designed to push the frontiers of computing chip and systems performance optimized for AI workloads, an 8 petaflops (Linpack) IBM Power9-based supercomputer has been unveiled in upstate New York that will be used by IBM Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Developing a Digital Twin

December 11, 2019

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location to location. In such a world, there will also be a digita Read more…

By Aaron Dubrow

Supercomputers Help Predict Carbon Dioxide Levels

December 10, 2019

The Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems – its lands, forests, jungles and so on – are crucial “sinks” for atmospheric carbon, holding nearly 30 percent of our annual CO2 emissions as they breathe in the carbon-rich Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Finally! SC19 Competitors Live and in Color!

December 10, 2019

You know the saying “better late than never”? That’s how my cluster competition coverage is faring this year. With SC19 coming late in November, quickly followed by my annual trip to South Africa to cover their clu Read more…

By Dan Olds

Intel’s Jim Clarke on its New Cryo-controller and why Intel isn’t Late to the Quantum Party

December 9, 2019

Intel today introduced the ‘first-of-its-kind’ cryo-controller chip for quantum computing and previewed a cryo-prober tool for characterizing quantum processor chips. The new controller is a mixed-signal SoC named Ho 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…

IBM Accelerated Insights

GPU Scheduling and Resource Accounting: The Key to an Efficient AI Data Center

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

GPUs are the new CPUs

GPUs have become a staple technology in modern HPC and AI data centers. Read more…

What’s New in HPC Research: Natural Gas, Precision Agriculture, Neural Networks and More

December 6, 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

RPI Powers Up ‘AiMOS’ AI Supercomputer

December 11, 2019

Designed to push the frontiers of computing chip and systems performance optimized for AI workloads, an 8 petaflops (Linpack) IBM Power9-based supercomputer has Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel’s Jim Clarke on its New Cryo-controller and why Intel isn’t Late to the Quantum Party

December 9, 2019

Intel today introduced the ‘first-of-its-kind’ cryo-controller chip for quantum computing and previewed a cryo-prober tool for characterizing quantum proces Read more…

By John Russell

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has n Read more…

By Doug Black

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science its Read more…

By John Russell

NSCI Update – Adapting to a Changing Landscape

December 2, 2019

It was November of 2017 when we last visited the topic of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). As you will recall, the NSCI was started with an Executive Order (E.O. No. 13702), that was issued by President Obama in July of 2015 and was followed by a Strategic Plan that was released in July of 2016. The question for November of 2017... Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Tsinghua University Racks Up Its Ninth Student Cluster Championship Win at SC19

November 27, 2019

Tsinghua University has done it again. At SC19 last week, the eight-time gold medal-winner team took home the top prize in the 2019 Student Cluster Competition 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

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

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

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

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
CEJN
CJEN
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

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

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By 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

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

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

Cerebras to Supply DOE with Wafer-Scale AI Supercomputing Technology

September 17, 2019

Cerebras Systems, which debuted its wafer-scale AI silicon at Hot Chips last month, has entered into a multi-year partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as part of a larger collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

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