IBM and the University of Tokyo today unveiled an IBM Quantum System One as part of the IBM-Japan quantum program announced in 2019. The system is the second IBM Quantum System One assembled outside the U.S. and follows a similar system installed in Germany in June. The latter is being administered by the Fraunhofer Geselleschaft scientific research institution.
Since its introduction in early 2019, IBM has promoted the Quantum System One as a self-contained quantum computer that can be readily assembled and run at client sites. Quantum computers are notoriously finicky and typically require dedicated facilities. Most quantum computer companies only offer access (or plan to only offer access) via a portal while housing the computer at their facility. D-Wave offers standalone systems for on-premise use as well as portal access. Currently all IBM quantum systems are IBM-maintained and accessed from a web portal, although presumably a company could purchase and use a System One on-premise.
This newest Quantum System One, installed at an IBM Facility at the Kawasaki Business Incubation Center in Shin Kawasaki, has 27 qubits and a Quantum Volume [metric] of 32, which is the same performance as the system in Germany. “Over the next few months, we expect to further enhance the system. And in the future, in collaboration with the University of Tokyo, we will assess upgrading the system to one of IBM’s next generation quantum chips,” said an IBM spokesperson.
Broadly, the 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.
In a blog accompanying the announcement, Jay Gambetta (IBM Fellow and VP, Quantum Computing) and Kei Kawase (program director, IBM Japan Quantum Program) wrote:
“Japan’s System One is part of the ongoing Japan-IBM Quantum Partnership, which is already exploring the frontiers of science with quantum computing. Scientists at Mitsubishi Chemical, part of the IBM Quantum Hub at Keio University, along with collaborators at Keio, the JSR corporation, and help from IBM Researchers, are developing new quantum algorithms to understand the complex behavior of industrial chemical compounds. Such compounds may have near-term applications for energy storage and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) devices.
“Meanwhile, Keio University, together with researchers from Mizuho Financial Group and the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, are improving an algorithm called amplitude estimation, which may be useful for options pricing and related financial instruments. Finally, researchers at the University of Tokyo have teamed up with IBM at the University of Tokyo-IBM Quantum Nikkei Global Digital Hardware Test Center where academic and industry collaborators can research the next generation of quantum hardware components in order to push the overall field of quantum computing forward. Other companies, such as SONY, DIC, Toshiba, Toyota, Hitachi, SuMi Trust, and Yokogawa are also doing groundbreaking quantum research as part of the Quantum Innovation Initiative Consortium, announced last year.”
Teruo Fujii, President of the University of Tokyo, is quoted in the announcement, “In the rapidly changing field of quantum technology, it is extremely important not only to develop quantum technology-related elements and systems, but also to foster the next generation of human resources in order to achieve advanced social implementation on a global scale. Our university has a broad base of research talents and has been always promoting high-level quantum education from the undergraduate level. Now, we will further refine the development of the next generation of quantum native skillsets by utilizing IBM Quantum System One.”
As shown in the figure below, IBM has outlined an ambitious quantum roadmap.
Link to IBM blog: https://research.ibm.com/blog/japan-quantum-system-one
Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPMY4oP3Qgk