Braket: Amazon’s Cloud-First Quantum Environment Is Generally Available

By Tiffany Trader

August 13, 2020

Amazon’s managed quantum computing service, Braket, is now generally available, providing budding and expert quantum computing developers alike an environment to test algorithms and tools and try out different quantum hardware. The strength of the service is that it enables scientists, researchers, and developers to begin experimenting with computers from multiple quantum hardware providers — including D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti — in a single place.

First announced in December 2019 in preview mode, Braket “lets users test and troubleshoot quantum algorithms on simulated quantum computers running on computing resources in AWS to help them verify their implementation.”

“When ready, customers can use Amazon Braket to run their quantum algorithms on their choice of quantum processors based on different technologies, including systems from D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti. Both simulated and quantum hardware jobs are managed through a unified development experience, and customers pay only for the compute resources used,” Amazon said.

As for the name Braket, it’s a take on the bra–ket notation used in quantum mechanics. Sayeth Wikipedia: “the notation uses the angle brackets, “{\displaystyle \langle }\langle ” and “{\displaystyle \rangle }\rangle “, and a vertical bar “{\displaystyle |}|”, to construct “bras” /brɑː/ and “kets” /kɛt/.”

AWS is the latest tech company to provide online access to quantum computing infrastructure. Early entrant IBM has offered cloud-based access to its quantum machines since 2016. Other individual quantum system providers – e.g. D-Wave, Rigetti – followed. Microsoft provides access to IonQ’s quantum computers in its Azure Quantum offering, announced last November. And Google is said to be planning a cloud interface to its quantum devices.

Here’s Amazon touting the benefits of Braket:

“Amazon Braket lets customers get started quickly, using familiar tools like Jupyter notebooks to access pre-installed developer tools that can be used to design quantum algorithms, visualize results, and collaborate with others. Amazon Braket offers cross-platform developer tools that let customers design their own quantum algorithms or choose from a growing library of pre-built algorithms, providing a consistent experience so that customers no longer need to learn multiple development environments. Customers can run, test, and troubleshoot their algorithms on quantum computer simulators that use Amazon EC2 computing resources.

“When ready, customers can then run their algorithm on the quantum computer of their choice without having to engage multiple providers or committing to a single technology. Today, Amazon Braket customers can choose superconducting quantum annealers from D-Wave, trapped ion processors from IonQ, or superconducting quantum processors from Rigetti. In addition to running quantum algorithms, customers can also use Amazon Braket to run hybrid algorithms, where the combined use of quantum and classical computing systems can help overcome the limitations that are inherent in today’s quantum technology.”

In a blog post, AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr walks through how to use Braket’s notebook-style interface to simulate a simple circuit and then run on quantum computing hardware.

HPCwire spoke with HPC and quantum watcher Bob Sorensen when Braket was introduced in December. The senior VP of research for Hyperion referred to the project as “a clever way for AWS to hit the ground running.”

“In the short-term they get onto the QC business by facilitating access to the existing pool of QC providers like IonQ, D-Wave and Rigetti through the Braket service, but at the same time they have put down a serious marker for development of their own flavor of QC hardware through the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, a collaborative effort with Caltech and others. Finally, the announcement of the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab to develop QC application development capabilities signals that AWS is also moving to be a player in the QC service sector as well,” said Sorensen.

Preparation for the AWS Center for Quantum Computing is currently underway. The center will be an incubator for quantum computing hardware and novel quantum applications, but given the site’s not slated to open until next spring, it could be some time until Amazon comes out with its own quantum computer.

Not being part of the pack of earliest quantum hardware innovators seemingly doesn’t phase Amazon. “[Quantum computing] is still a very young field; there’s a lot that we don’t know, and plenty of room for scientific and technological breakthroughs,” Barr said in a December 2019 blog post.

Via AWS Braket, companies can leverage quantum computing tools and hardware to build skills and explore the potential of quantum across far-reaching domains, including drug discovery, materials science research, financial portfolio optimizations, logistics and transportation. The diversity of exploratory use cases is reflected in the customers who have signed on to use the service, including Fidelity Investments, Volkswagen, Enel, the University of Waterloo, Rahko, and Qu & Co.

“As we see quantum computing technologies make more meaningful progress, thousands of customers are asking for ways to experiment with quantum computers to explore the technology’s potential and contribute to its development,” said Bill Vass, vice president, technology, at AWS. “The cloud will be the main way that customers access quantum computers and combine those systems with high-performance classical computing for certain types of computationally-intensive research.

Example pricing models offered by Amazon ranged between $.68 and $5.18 to complete a task. For more information on pricing, visit https://aws.amazon.com/braket/pricing/.

Braket is available today in three U.S. AWS datacenters (N. Virginia, N. California and Oregon), with more regions coming soon, according to the company.

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