Eviden – soon to be the independent half of European IT giant Atos which is splitting itself in two this year – today introduced a broad quantum computing portfolio, led by the newly-minted Qaptiva suite of software tools and services and the renaming of the Atos quantum simulator appliance from QLM to Qaptiva 800. Broadly speaking, a wide variety of services and resources are being bundled under the Qaptiva brand, assembling together what was Atos’ significant push into the quantum market.
While Atos may be a less familiar name on the U.S. quantum landscape, it’s an entrenched player in the rapidly growing European quantum community. The QLM (quantum learning machine) appliance, for example, is widely used and can emulate circuits up to 41 qubits, not a trivial task. Atos has even developed its own benchmark – Q-score – which the company says, “measures the efficiency of running a representative quantum application, a system’s effectiveness at handling real-life problems, instead of its theoretical or physical performance.”
(Atos has long been a global force in HPC. Recently it’s been beefing up its HPC cloud capabilities including the purchase of U.S.-based HPC cloud specialist Nimbix (2021). For more detail on Eviden’s forthcoming split from Atos see HPCwire coverage, Atos Launches ‘Eviden’ Brand Ahead of Planned Split.)
As described by Eviden/Atos, “Qaptiva offers all-in-one capabilities and a best-in-class development environment to write code once and seamlessly run it on different Quantum hardware, either on-premises or through the cloud. Designed to encompass in one place all quantum technologies provided by Qaptiva software partners, this platform provides developers, researchers, and scientists with all the necessary tools and resources (libraries, connectors, emulators, and compilers) to program, optimize, compile, emulate, and run code on a Quantum Processing Unit (QPU), delivering tangible results very rapidly without waiting for Large Scale Quantum (LSQ).”
For the moment, Eviden/Atos isn’t building a QPU and touts its emphasis on remaining quantum hardware-agnostic (i.e. qubit modality). Like others in the quantum community it has also embraced the idea that it can deliver some form of quantum advantage now using qubit-emulation technology run on classical systems, including the Qaptiva 800.
In a briefing with HPCwire, Eric Eppe, VP, portfolio and strategy for HPC,AI and Quantum Computing, Eviden, Atos Group, said, “What we are offering customers is a big platform to develop their applications with a set of partners helping us. But it’s also full protection of your investment, because you don’t need to make any bet on any [particular] QPU today. I don’t know anyone who can make a bet today, on IQM on IBM, Pasqal, QuEra or on any of these technologies, because tomorrow, someone can come up with a new technology that will break [some] barrier and change the rules. All the customers we see say, “I don’t want to buy a computer today, I just want to make sure that my application runs and the results are predictable.”
Currently the Qaptiva capabilities are delivered in a QaaS manner through Atos cloud or via purchase of the Qaptiva 800 appliance for use on-premise. Eppe said Eviden was exploring other public cloud options but declined to name any. To some extent, it seems likely Eviden/Atos will need some time to hone its go-to-market strategies.
Eppe said Eviden/Atos has a robust roster of customers from industry, government, and academia, including some big HPC centers. Eppe said that Oak Ridge National Laboratory was actually its first big HPC center customer. He said industry’s POC tire-kicking in the quantum arena has started turning into firmer plans for specific applications. He cited France-based TotalEnergies (energy giant) as one example. “It is looking at material science, and at ways to capture CO2,” said Eppe, adding that Eviden/Atos has 40-plus customers at the moment.
The company has also been expanding its partner ecosystem to offer a wide choice of quantum software libraries and different hardware choices. Here’s an excerpt from the announcement, “To support the evolution of quantum software, the team has partnered with innovation-driven Quantum players like ColibrITD, QuantFI, QubitSoft, Qubit Pharmaceuticals, QuRISK and Multiverse Computing to integrate them in Qaptiva and to address industry-specific use cases related to automotive, defense, energy, finance, life science and retail. For quantum computing hardware, after the signature of an agreement with our forward-thinking partner IQM Quantum Computers in 2022, Eviden is now also collaborating with French technology leaders Quandela and Pasqal for joint commercial offers.”
Hyperion Research chief quantum analyst Bob Sorensen was positive on the Eviden strategy and is quoted in the official announcement, “With the launch of Qaptiva, a complete as-a-service offer focused on applications development, Eviden is on the right path toward rapid innovation and adoption of Quantum Computing for enterprises and businesses. This allows Eviden to acquire new capabilities, extend its solutions to address new markets, and meet customer needs.” He also noted Eviden would be able to leverage its HPC strength to support blended Quantum-HPC-AI efforts.
While Atos’ historical HPC strength has been in Europe, it’s always been a global player. The acquisition of the U.S.-based Nimbix HPC cloud occurred as Atos was ramping up a push in the U.S. Eppe said its consulting groups, which develop quantum customers, have tended be developed on a country/region bases and that the U.S and Asia were areas of increased activity.