DARPA Awards Rigetti Team $2.9M Quantum Benchmark Contract

Three-year program aims to establish testable quantum computing metrics
Berenice Baker

August 12, 2022

A Rigetti quantum processor
DARPA has awarded Rigetti a quantum benchmarking contract.Rigetti

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a team led by Rigetti Computing a contract to develop benchmarks for quantum application performance on large-scale quantum computers.

The program for DARPA, the research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, is worth up to $2.9 million over three years based on the achievement of certain milestones.

Other team members include the University of Technology Sydney, Aalto University, and the University of Southern California.

Quantum computers are at an early stage of technology maturity and many use radically different technology so their performance on target applications is difficult to compare. They are also currently prone to faults and fault-tolerance measures affect performance.

Quantum integrated circuit developer Rigetti aims to establish rigorous and universal benchmarks to provide accurate estimates of how future fault-tolerant quantum computers could perform. It will investigate how errors occur

at the qubit level and how they impact performance on target applications and set out how quantum hardware and software need to evolve to meet critical performance thresholds.

“This award is a testament to our full-stack R&D capabilities and rigorous focus on delivering application performance,” said Rigetti Computing founder and CEO Chad Rigetti. “We believe having a set of industry-accepted application benchmarks will help mature the quantum computing ecosystem and inform our technology roadmap.

“Most of the existing work deals with somewhat simplified assumptions about qubit errors, and here we hope to improve the state of the art by building more faithful models of the qubits and their environment,” said Daniel Lidar, Viterbi professor of engineering at the University of Southern California.

“This is an extraordinary level of collaboration in the quantum software field,” We will be developing some of the first automated software tools for quantum performance analytics that have ever existed. This will undoubtedly accelerate the field even further,” added Yuval Sanders, University of Technology Sydney center for quantum software and information researcher.

This award represents phase one of DARPA’s three-year, two-stage Quantum Benchmarking Program concluding in February 2024. The program’s goal is to establish quantum computing metrics, make those metrics testable and estimate the required quantum and classical resources needed to reach critical performance thresholds.

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