IBM wants a 4,000-qubit quantum computer by 2025

IBM has big plans for its quantum computing systems, but recognizes there is still a lot of work to do.

IBM announced its goal of building a 4,000-qubit system by 2025 during its Think! event this week indicating that he wanted to create practical quantum computing systems with an intelligent software orchestration layer to efficiently distribute workloads and remove infrastructure problems.

“We believe that by next year we will begin prototyping quantum software applications for specific use cases,” IBM said. “We will begin defining these services with our first test case, machine learning, working with partners to accelerate the path to useful quantum software applications.”

The big goal is to build what, in today’s terms, would be a massive quantum computer – a system of over 4,000 qubits built with clusters of quantum processors. IBM’s current quantum processor, Eagle, supports 127-qubit processing, and by the end of the year it plans to roll out Osprey, a 433-qubit processor, to be followed in 2023 by the processor. Condor of 1,121 qubits.

Achieving the huge goal that IBM envisions will involve linking together three 1,386-qubit multi-chip processors that IBM calls Kookaburra for a total of 4,158 qubits.

To achieve this goal, IBM and its partners will need to develop tons of new software that can control and link these systems while eliminating errors that can slow down quantum work.

“Our goal is to build quantum-centric supercomputers,” IBM researchers wrote in a Blog on company projects. “The quantum-centric supercomputer will integrate quantum processors, classical processors, quantum communication networks and classical networks, all working together to completely transform the way we compute.”

To achieve its goals, IBM said it needed to solve the challenge of scaling quantum processors by developing a runtime environment to deliver quantum computations with increased speed and quality, and introducing a model serverless programming to allow quantum and classical processors to work together without friction.

IBM plans to build on its current Qiskit Runtime software to experiment with algorithms for creating and managing quantum programs.

IBM said that in 2023 it will support Qiskit direct execution and cloud-integrated workflows, to introduce a serverless approach to the core quantum software stack and provide developers with a advanced simplicity and flexibility. This serverless approach will also mark a critical step in achieving the intelligent and efficient distribution of problems between quantum and classical systems, IBM said.

During this period, the company will also add the ability for quantum processors to operate in parallel. In addition, IBM said it will develop short-range chip-level couplers to link quantum chips together to form a single, larger processor.

“In 2024 and 2025, we will introduce error mitigation and suppression techniques to Qiskit Runtime so that users can focus on improving the quality of results obtained from quantum hardware. These techniques will help lay the foundation for quantum error correction in the future,” IBM said.

The company said it believes that by next year it will partner to start prototyping quantum software applications for specific use cases, starting with machine learning. By 2025, IBM said, model developers will be able to explore quantum applications in machine learning, optimization, natural sciences, and more.

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