IBM Expands Quantum Computing Roadmap

Company moving activity to the cloud for serverless approach
Berenice Baker

May 12, 2022

A woman researcher works on an IBM quantum computer
IBM has expanded its quantum roadmap.IBM

IBM has expanded the quantum computing roadmap it first announced in 2020, setting out how it aims to achieve large-scale, practical quantum computing that works hand-in-hand with classical computers.

New modular architectures and networking introduced since the original publication are expected to enable future IBM quantum systems to have up to hundreds of thousands of qubits.

IBM is also modifying the supporting software architecture to efficiently distribute workloads and optimize the way resources are used, which should enable its quantum computing solutions to work more efficiently.

IBM’s plan consists of three pillars: robust and scalable quantum hardware, cutting-edge quantum software to orchestrate and enable accessible and powerful quantum programs and a broad global ecosystem of quantum-ready organizations and communities.

“In just two years, our team has made incredible progress on our existing quantum roadmap,” said IBM senior vice president and director of research Darío Gil. “Executing

on our vision has given us clear visibility into the future of quantum and what it will take to get us to the practical quantum computing era.”

Next year, IBM plans to adopt a serverless approach, making its development tools and workflows available in the cloud. This is aimed at making it easier for developers and will more intelligently distribute problems across quantum and classical systems.

The company also plans to introduce its hotly anticipated Condor quantum processor, the world’s first with more than 1,000 qubits, in 2023.

“Our new quantum roadmap shows how we intend to achieve the scale, quality and speed of computing necessary to unlock the promise of quantum technology,” said IBM quantum computing and IBM fellow Jay Gambetta.

“By combining modular quantum processors with classical infrastructure, orchestrated by [quantum computing programming architecture] Qiskit Runtime, we are building a platform that will let users easily build quantum calculations into their workflows and so tackle the essential challenges of our time.”

The roadmap sets out three ways in which IBM is making its quantum offering scalable:

  • Building capabilities to communicate and parallelize operations across multiple processors, combining classical computer resources with quantum processors that can extend in size. This intends to offer better error mitigation techniques and intelligent workload balancing.

    • Deploying short-range, chip-level couplers. These couplers are expected to closely connect multiple chips to effectively form a single and larger processor and introduce modularity to enable scaling.

      • Providing quantum communication links between quantum processors to connect clusters into a larger quantum system.

        These techniques are expected to contribute toward IBM’s 2025 goal of a 4,000-qubit processor built with multiple clusters of modularly scaled processors.

        IBM announced its roadmap the day before the 25th anniversary of its Deep Blue supercomputer beating world chess champion Garry Kasparov on May 11, 1997, considered a milestone event in the history of computers.

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