Think Big: IBM Shows Ambitious Roadmap for Quantum Computing Ecosystem

By John Russell

February 4, 2021

IBM today laid out a more detailed roadmap for bringing quantum computing to practical usefulness. Last fall, IBM spelled out its hardware plans. Today, it spelled out its software ecosystem plans including, among other things, new tools and cloud initiatives. Perhaps wisely, IBM still injected a note of caution regarding quantum computing’s near-term prospects.

Writing in a IBM research blog today, IBM’s Karl WehdenIsmael Faro, and Jay Gambetta, said, “Quantum computing is on the verge of sparking a paradigm shift. Software reliant on this nascent technology, one rooted in the physical laws of nature, could soon revolutionize computing forever. Bear in mind, however, that it took classical computing many decades to go from individually programmed logic gates to the sophisticated cloud-based services of today—and we hope to see quantum computing take that same leap in just a few short years. We think we can get there, but we can’t take this leap alone.”

The hardware roadmap released in the fall outlined IBM’s planned path to 1000-qubit machines, including named systems, and description of a giant dilution refrigerator project named Golden Eye that would be able to house a million qubits. (See HPCwire coverage, IBM’s Quantum Race to One Million Qubits.) IBM’s Eagle quantum system (127 qubits) is due in 2021 with Osprey (433 qubits in 2022) and Condor (1,000 qubits in 2023) to follow.

It’s a bold plan, but not without a few skeptics. That said, it embodies IBM’s belief that practical quantum computing is closer, perhaps, than many expect. Today’s roadmap, delivered with a blog and video, tackles the software side. In a chart describing the roadmap, IBM layers expected advances for software development on top of its hardware plans (see below).

“Our Development Roadmap serves to give each developer segment the tools they need to produce the best circuits, algorithms, and models, while maximizing the opportunities for collaboration. We are increasing the variety of circuits and the capacity of our systems to run more circuits more quickly, while developing a platform where quantum developers can work seamlessly in the same integrated cloud-based framework,” wrote Wehden (pre-sales and client success director), Faro (distinguished engineer and tech lead), and Gambetta (IBM Fellow and VP quantum).

“Workloads with both quantum and classical components will not be constrained by origin or the nature of integration, and the hybrid cloud will allow these workloads to run everywhere that our cloud native systems run today and in the future.

“Today, we’re making crucial updates for quantum kernel developers writing code at the lowest level, for whom we’ve been focusing on developing circuit APIs. This year, we plan to release the Qiskit runtime—an execution environment that increases the capacity to run more circuits at a much faster rate than ever before, and with the capability to store quantum programs so other users can run them as a service. The Qiskit runtime rethinks the classical-quantum workload so that programs will be uploaded and executed on classical hardware located beside quantum hardware, slashing latencies emerging from communication between the user’s computer and the quantum processor,” they wrote.

IBM says these, and other improvements, “will lead to a 100x speedup in workloads that exploit iterative circuit execution, which will allow our quantum systems to run jobs in just a few hours that, today, can take months.”

The devil, of course, is in the details. The blog and video are worth perusing. Broadly, the conversation around quantum computing has spread and gained volume in recent months as government efforts (money) and the number of nascent quantum technology companies have mushroomed.

“By 2023, we expect to offer entire families of pre-built runtimes tailored to these domains, callable from a cloud-based API using a variety of common development frameworks. At this point, we think the foundations laid down by quantum kernel and algorithm developers will allow model and enterprise developers to explore quantum computing models on their own without having to think about the quantum physics. Developers will have the freedom to enrich systems built in any cloud-native hybrid runtime, language, and common programming framework, or integrate quantum components simply into any business workflow,” according to the blog.

From here to there seems like a long way technologically if not in time. The growing frenzy of research into varying qubit technologies, qubit control mechanisms, software tools, and underlying applications make it hard to predict winners and losers. The semiconductor-based superconducting qubit technology IBM has bet on is probably the most advanced. Ion trap and cold atom technologies are also gaining strength and recent work in optical approaches, led by the network community, is promising.

Developing a software ecosystem able to deal with diverse underlying qubit technologies while presenting a high enough abstraction layer to software developers to make their jobs easier would be a huge step forward.

As part of its announcements today, IBM also highlighted the Unitary Fund, a non-profit seeking to develop the ecosystem. IBM is a member. Here’s an excerpt from the Unitary Fund website

“We do two main things:

  • We run a microgrant program. We fund explorers across the world to work on quantum technologies. Do you have an idea for a project? Apply for a microgrant. More details are in our FAQ. Check out our previous grants.
  • We do our own research on projects that help the ecosystem as a whole. For example, we are developing mitiq, an open source compiler for error-mitigated quantum programming.

“Our grant program gives $4k cash grants for projects that help develop the quantum technology ecosystem. This could be open source quantum software, educational materials and workshops, a new quantum sensor prototype, or much more.”

The Unitary Fund lists its sponsors as: IBM, Alphabet X, Microsoft, Cambridge Quantum Computing, Rigetti, Xanadu, Zapata Computing, QCWare,  quantumcomputing.com, Strangeworks, PLOS, Steve Willis & NYC QuantumMeetup, EeroQ, John Hering, Jeff Cordova, Nima Alidoust, Travis Humble, Will Zeng

Link to IBM blog: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/research/2021/02/quantum-development-roadmap/

Link to IBM video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp7UFdtwdTw

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!

IBM Quantum Challenge 2021 – Let the Programming Begin!

May 17, 2021

Looking to sharpen or perhaps simply explore your quantum programming skills? On Thursday, IBM fires up its IBM Quantum Challenge 2021 marking the fifth anniversary of IBM Quantum Experience cloud services and the 40th  Read more…

Q&A with Altair CEO James Scapa, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2021

May 14, 2021

Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Altair James R. Scapa closed several acquisitions for the company in 2020, including the purchase and integration of Univa and Ellexus. Scapa founded Altair more than 35 years ago with two Read more…

HLRS HPC Helps to Model Muscle Movements

May 13, 2021

The growing scale of HPC is allowing simulation of more and more complex systems at greater detail than ever before, particularly in the biological research spheres. Now, researchers at the University of Stuttgart are le Read more…

Behind the Met Office’s Procurement of a Billion-Dollar Microsoft System

May 13, 2021

The UK’s national weather service, the Met Office, caused shockwaves of curiosity a few weeks ago when it formally announced that its forthcoming billion-dollar supercomputer – expected to be the most powerful weather and climate-focused supercomputer in the world when it launches in 2022... Read more…

AMD, GlobalFoundries Commit to $1.6 Billion Wafer Supply Deal

May 13, 2021

AMD plans to purchase $1.6 billion worth of wafers from GlobalFoundries in the 2022 to 2024 timeframe, the chipmaker revealed today (May 13) in an SEC filing. In the face of global semiconductor shortages and record-high demand, AMD is renegotiating its Wafer Supply Agreement and bumping up capacity. Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Numerical weather prediction on AWS Graviton2

The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is a numerical weather prediction (NWP) system designed to serve both atmospheric research and operational forecasting needs. Read more…

Hyperion Offers Snapshot of Quantum Computing Market

May 13, 2021

The nascent quantum computer (QC) market will grow 27 percent annually (CAGR) reaching $830 million in 2024 according to an update provided today by analyst firm Hyperion Research at the HPC User Forum being held this we Read more…

Behind the Met Office’s Procurement of a Billion-Dollar Microsoft System

May 13, 2021

The UK’s national weather service, the Met Office, caused shockwaves of curiosity a few weeks ago when it formally announced that its forthcoming billion-dollar supercomputer – expected to be the most powerful weather and climate-focused supercomputer in the world when it launches in 2022... Read more…

AMD, GlobalFoundries Commit to $1.6 Billion Wafer Supply Deal

May 13, 2021

AMD plans to purchase $1.6 billion worth of wafers from GlobalFoundries in the 2022 to 2024 timeframe, the chipmaker revealed today (May 13) in an SEC filing. In the face of global semiconductor shortages and record-high demand, AMD is renegotiating its Wafer Supply Agreement and bumping up capacity. Read more…

Hyperion Offers Snapshot of Quantum Computing Market

May 13, 2021

The nascent quantum computer (QC) market will grow 27 percent annually (CAGR) reaching $830 million in 2024 according to an update provided today by analyst fir Read more…

Hyperion: HPC Server Market Ekes 1 Percent Gain in 2020, Storage Poised for ‘Tipping Point’

May 12, 2021

The HPC User Forum meeting taking place virtually this week (May 11-13) kicked off with Hyperion Research’s market update, covering the 2020 period. Although Read more…

IBM Debuts Qiskit Runtime for Quantum Computing; Reports Dramatic Speed-up

May 11, 2021

In conjunction with its virtual Think event, IBM today introduced an enhanced Qiskit Runtime Software for quantum computing, which it says demonstrated 120x spe Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Fast Pass Through (Some of) the Quantum Landscape with ORNL’s Raphael Pooser

May 7, 2021

In a rather remarkable way, and despite the frequent hype, the behind-the-scenes work of developing quantum computing has dramatically accelerated in the past f Read more…

IBM Research Debuts 2nm Test Chip with 50 Billion Transistors

May 6, 2021

IBM Research today announced the successful prototyping of the world's first 2 nanometer chip, fabricated with silicon nanosheet technology on a standard 300mm Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

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…

Saudi Aramco Unveils Dammam 7, Its New Top Ten Supercomputer

January 21, 2021

By revenue, oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has historically employed commensurate amounts of supercomputing Read more…

Quantum Computer Start-up IonQ Plans IPO via SPAC

March 8, 2021

IonQ, a Maryland-based quantum computing start-up working with ion trap technology, plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

AMD Launches Epyc ‘Milan’ with 19 SKUs for HPC, Enterprise and Hyperscale

March 15, 2021

At a virtual launch event held today (Monday), AMD revealed its third-generation Epyc “Milan” CPU lineup: a set of 19 SKUs -- including the flagship 64-core, 280-watt 7763 part --  aimed at HPC, enterprise and cloud workloads. Notably, the third-gen Epyc Milan chips achieve 19 percent... Read more…

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

Livermore’s El Capitan Supercomputer to Debut HPE ‘Rabbit’ Near Node Local Storage

February 18, 2021

A near node local storage innovation called Rabbit factored heavily into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s decision to select Cray’s proposal for its CORAL-2 machine, the lab’s first exascale-class supercomputer, El Capitan. Details of this new storage technology were revealed... Read more…

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

The History of Supercomputing vs. COVID-19

March 9, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a greater challenge to the high-performance computing community than any before. HPCwire's coverage of the supercomputing response t Read more…

Microsoft to Provide World’s Most Powerful Weather & Climate Supercomputer for UK’s Met Office

April 22, 2021

More than 14 months ago, the UK government announced plans to invest £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) into weather and climate supercomputing, including procuremen Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire