Hold onto your servers. Big Blue touts ‘breakthrough’ 127-Qubit capable Quantum processor, known as the ‘Eagle’ processor
IBM has claimed a breakthrough in quantum computing, with the unveiling of its new Eagle processor.
Big Blue announced that the Eagle processor “delivers 127 qubits on a single IBM quantum processor for the first time with breakthrough packaging technology.”
IBM has been developing its quantum computing capabilities for years now, and in 2016 it made quantum computing available to the public as a cloud-based on-demand service for use in quantum processing experiments.
Then in 2017 IBM became the first company to begin building a commercial programme around early-stage general-purpose quantum computers.
Four years later and IBM on Tuesday announced its new 127-quantum bit (qubit) ‘Eagle’ processor at the IBM Quantum Summit 2021.
IBM said its ‘Eagle’ processor is a breakthrough because it can tap into the massive computing potential of devices based on quantum physics.
“It heralds the point in hardware development where quantum circuits cannot be reliably simulated exactly on a classical computer,” said the firm. “IBM also previewed plans for IBM Quantum System Two, the next generation of quantum systems.”
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Quantum computing is expected to revolutionise the way computers work by using building blocks whose functionality draws on quantum effects.
But their principles are fundamentally different from those of classical computers, with quantum qubits, for instance, able to hold multiple states, in contrast to the two possible states of a digital bit.
As a result, many of the companies such as Google, IBM and Microsoft that are investing in developing quantum computers are also looking to work with programmers to build their familiarity with quantum computing concepts.
IBM said that it measures progress in quantum computing hardware through three performance attributes: Scale, Quality and Speed.
Scale is measured in the number of qubits on a quantum processor and determines how large of a quantum circuit can be run.
Quality is measured by Quantum Volume and describes how accurately quantum circuits run on a real quantum device.
Speed is measured by CLOPS (Circuit Layer Operations Per Second), a metric IBM introduced in November 2021, and captures the feasibility of running real calculations composed of a large number of quantum circuits.
IBM says that ‘Eagle’ is it’s first quantum processor developed and deployed to contain more than 100 operational and connected qubits.
It comes after IBM’s 65-qubit ‘Hummingbird’ processor unveiled in 2020 and the 27-qubit ‘Falcon’ processor unveiled in 2019.
IBM said that in order to achieve this breakthrough, its researchers built on innovations pioneered within its existing quantum processors, such as a qubit arrangement design to reduce errors and an architecture to reduce the number of necessary components.
The new techniques utilised within Eagle place control wiring on multiple physical levels within the processor while keeping the qubits on a single layer, which enables a significant increase in qubits, said IBM.
“The arrival of the ‘Eagle’ processor is a major step towards the day when quantum computers can outperform classical computers for useful applications,” said Dr Darío Gil, Senior VP at IBM and Director of Research.
“Quantum computing has the power to transform nearly every sector and help us tackle the biggest problems of our time,” said Dr Gil. “This is why IBM continues to rapidly innovate quantum hardware and software design, building ways for quantum and classical workloads to empower each other, and create a global ecosystem that is imperative to the growth of a quantum industry.”
The first ‘Eagle’ processor is available as an exploratory device on the IBM Cloud to select members of the IBM Quantum Network.
IBM Quantum System Two
It should be remembered that IBM in 2019, unveiled its IBM Quantum System One, the world’s first integrated quantum computing system.
Since then, IBM has deployed these systems as the foundation of its cloud-based IBM Quantum services in the United States, as well as in Germany for Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Germany’s leading scientific research institution, in Japan for the University of Tokyo, and a forthcoming system in the US at Cleveland Clinic.
In addition, it has just announced a new partnership with Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, to deploy the first IBM quantum system in the country.
As IBM continues to scale up its processors beyond the infrastructure of IBM Quantum System One, it has now unveiled a concept for the future of quantum computing systems: IBM Quantum System Two.
IBM Quantum System Two is designed to work with IBM’s future 433-qubit and 1,121 qubit processors.
A sneak peak video of the IBM Quantum System Two is available here.
“IBM Quantum System Two offers a glimpse into the future quantum computing data centre, where modularity and flexibility of system infrastructure will be key towards continued scaling,” said Dr Jay Gambetta, IBM Fellow and VP of Quantum Computing.
“System Two draws on IBM’s long heritage in both quantum and classical computing, bringing in new innovations at every level of the technology stack,” said Dr Gambetta.
IBM Quantum System Two’s design will incorporate a new generation of scalable qubit control electronics together with higher-density cryogenic components and cabling.
Furthermore, IBM Quantum System Two introduces a new cryogenic platform, designed in conjunction with Bluefors, featuring a novel structural design to maximize space for the support hardware required by larger processors while ensuring that engineers can easily access and service the hardware, said IBM.