IBM Unveils World’s First Integrated Quantum Computing System for Commercial Use

At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), IBM unveiled IBM Q System One, the world’s first integrated universal approximate quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use.

IBM also announced plans to open its first IBM Q Quantum Computation Center for commercial clients in Poughkeepsie, New York in 2019.

IBM Q System One enables universal approximate superconducting quantum computers to operate outside the research lab for the first time. It’s a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing, which could one day enable breakthroughs in such areas as materials and drug discovery, financial services, and artificial intelligence.

Designed by IBM scientists, systems engineers and industrial designers, IBM Q System One has a modular and compact design optimized for stability, reliability and continuous commercial use. For the first time ever, IBM Q System One enables universal approximate superconducting quantum computers to operate beyond the confines of the research lab.

Much as classical computers combine multiple components into an integrated architecture optimized to work together, IBM is applying the same approach to quantum computing with the first integrated universal quantum computing system. IBM Q System One is comprised of a number of custom components that work together to serve as the most advanced cloud-based quantum computing program available, 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.

The IBM Q Quantum Computation Center opening later this year in Poughkeepsie, New York, will expand the IBM Q Network commercial quantum computing program, which already includes systems at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York.

This new center will house some of the world’s most advanced cloud-based quantum computing systems, which will be accessible to members of the IBM Q Network, a worldwide community of Fortune 500 companies, startups, academic institutions, and national research labs working with IBM to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for business and science.

IBM assembled a team of industrial designers, architects, and manufacturers to work alongside IBM Research scientists and systems engineers to design IBM Q System One, including UK industrial and interior design studios Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio, and Goppion, a Milan-based manufacturer of high-end museum display cases that protect some of the world’s most precious art including the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

Together these collaborators designed the first quantum system to consolidate thousands of components into a glass-enclosed, air-tight environment built specifically for business use, a milestone in the evolution of commercial quantum computers.

This integrated system aims to address one of the most challenging aspects of quantum computing: continuously maintaining the quality of qubits used to perform quantum computations. Powerful yet delicate, qubits quickly lose their special quantum properties, typically within 100 microseconds (for state-of-the-art superconducting qubits), due in part to the interconnected machinery’s ambient noise of vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and electromagnetic waves. Protection from this interference is one of many reasons why quantum computers and their components require careful engineering and isolation.

The design of IBM Q System One includes a nine-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass forming a sealed, airtight enclosure that opens effortlessly using “roto-translation,” a motor-driven rotation around two displaced axes engineered to simplify the system’s maintenance and upgrade process while minimizing downtime – another innovative trait that makes the IBM Q System One suited to reliable commercial use.

A series of independent aluminum and steel frames unify, but also decouple the system’s cryostat, control electronics, and exterior casing, helping to avoid potential vibration interference that leads to “phase jitter” and qubit decoherence.

A replica of IBM Q System One will be on display at CES.


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Author: CDR Info
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A new type of quantum computer has smashed every record

Quantum computing is progressing in leaps and bounds

Why it matters: As the quantum future looms closer, hundreds if not thousands of companies and research groups race towards constructing the first quantum computer that can outperform traditional supercomputers. However, the competition is not just between organizations, it’s also between competing methods of quantum computing.
IonQ was founded on a gamble that ‘trapped ion quantum’ computing could outperform the silicon-based quantum computers that Google and others are building. As of right now, it does. IonQ has constructed a quantum computer that can perform calculations on a 79-qubit array, beating the previous king Google’s efforts by 7 qubits.

Their error rates are also the best in the business, with their single-qubit error rate at 99.97% while the nearest competitors are around the 99.5 mark, and a two-qubit error rate of 99.3% when most competitors are beneath 95%. But how does it compare to regular computers?

According to IonQ, in the kinds of workloads that quantum computers are being built for, it’s already overtaking them. The Bernstein-Vazirani Algorithm, a benchmark IonQ is hoping will take off, tests a computer’s ability to determine a single encoded number (called an oracle) when the computer can only ask a single yes/no question.

When the algorithm is run for every number between 1 and 1023, a conventional computer gets a 0.2% success rate. IonQ’s quantum computer gets a 79% success rate.

“After two years of work, our against-the-grain bet is paying off,” IonQ’s CEO, Christopher Monroe, believes trapped ion quantum computing is the best bet. “The IonQ System is robust and industrial strength. Even at this early stage, the results show the ion trap design has all the advantages we expected and more.”

All quantum computers “isolate and manipulate quantum systems to create quantum versions of computer bits, called qubits” reads IonQ’s website. Quantum computers replace the traditional 0 or 1 logic gates processors rely on and replace them with 0 and 1 quantum gates, which are simultaneously 0 and 1 during calculations but output 0 or 1. This funky math has the potential to reinvent computing in fields like chemistry, medicine, energy, logistics and future fields like AI.

The specific ‘trapped ion technology’ the IonQ’s quantum computer relies on replaces the supercooled silicon that Google, IBM and Rigetti use with ytterbium, a silvery rare earth metal. The ionized ytterbium is suspended in an oscillating electromagnetic field, where it’s manipulated by engineers who program the lasers that input, store and retrieve information.

While ‘trapped ion’ quantum computing still has some hurdles to overcome, namely slow operation times and massive sizes, the accuracy and scalability of the technology means that IonQ will be letting companies use its computer sometime next year. It’s also got a peer-reviewed journal article on the developments that will be published in the coming months.

Quantum supremacy, the moment that the best quantum computer is better than the best traditional computer, is approaching rapidly. While even IonQ will admit that they don’t know what the “killer app of quantum computers” is yet, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be too long before we’re all taking it for granted.


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Author: Isaiah Mayersen
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