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The Juliers Research Center in Germany, one of the largest interdisciplinary research centers in Europe, has just announced the launch of the first European quantum computer with more than 5000 qubits. The event marks a milestone in the development of quantum computers in Europe. This quantum calculator is designed by D-Wave Systems; this is the first time the company has launched a quantum cloud-based system outside of North America.
The computer is installed at the Jülich Supercomputing Center (JSC), along with the supercomputers that the center already has. ” The combination of quantum and supercomputing technologies is the key to realizing advanced scientific discoveries and opens the doors to new worlds with enormous potential for innovation “, Underlined in a press release Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner. The commissioning of this computer is also an opportunity to place Germany and Europe at the forefront of quantum computers internationally.
The German Government welcomes this new step. ” Quantum computers offer enormous opportunities for our future and for Germany as a research site. They have the potential to change our daily lives for the better “, Stated Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Federal Research Minister, recalling that the power of quantum computing can greatly contribute to optimizing the use of the grid, investment strategies, or even the design of drugs.
A computer that relies on quantum annealing
It was in September 2020 that D-Wave unveiled its next-generation quantum platform, specifically designed for businesses that integrate all software and tools to accelerate the delivery of commercial quantum computer applications. Among these tools, the system is called Advantage, based on more than 5000 qubits, each of which can connect to 15 other qubits; it is available through D-Wave’s quantum cloud service (Leap). D-Wave is a major player in the quantum computer market; it depends on a particular technology, the quantum annealing (or quantum annealing).
Unlike other approaches (followed by IBM or Google), which rely on universal quantum ports – which are extremely sensitive to external interference and therefore prone to errors – quantum annealing has the advantage of being better protected against power noise. It starts from a quantum mechanical superposition of all possible states with equal weights. The system then develops and modifies these weights so that it all reaches the energy minimum (which should correspond to the requested solution of the problem).
Quantum annealing is therefore mainly used to optimize processes (finding the best solution among all those possible), such as the famous problem with the traveling seller. The technique is also of great interest to industry, for example to effectively control traffic flows or to train neural networks of artificial intelligence applications. D-Wave is one of the leading manufacturers of quantum systems of this type; many quantum applications have already been developed thanks to this approach, in such diverse areas as financial modeling, flight planning, choice modeling, quantum chemistry simulation, automobile manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, etc.
The unprecedented association of quantum computers and supercomputers
The new quantum system installed in the Juliers Center is the second quantum computer in JUNIQ (July Unified Infrastructure for Quantum computing) – an infrastructure created in 2019, unique in Europe, which gives various German and European user groups easy access to quantum computers via the cloud. The Advantage system is also the first in the world to be installed outside the company’s headquarters located in Canada. ” Our European customers value computer sovereignty highly, and we are pleased to bring together Jülich’s expertise in deep computing and D-Wave’s ability to scale and commercialize transformative technologies. said Alan Baratz, CEO of D-Wave.
” We operate the system directly in our home in Jülich, which allows us to integrate it closely into our supercomputing infrastructure explains Professor Kristel Michielsen, Head of the Quantum Information Processing Group at JSC. These 5000 qubits will allow him to help solve the problems that the center’s supercomputers support. According to Professor Thomas Lippert, Director of JSC, this will be the first time that a quantum computer is working directly with a supercomputer.
This quantum computer has been developed specifically for industrial use. It thus has special features, all of which are accessible via the JUNIQ infrastructure: an updated Advantage system, quantum systems with a highly interconnected Pegasus topology and the highest performance to date in a commercial quantum system “, details the press release. Note that a completely new building has been built to house this marvel of technology. Quantum computer systems must be protected from vibrations as far as possible. The building’s two engine rooms therefore have special anti-vibration foundations to dampen vibrations.
In addition to the system designed by D-Wave, the building will also house another quantum computer from next year.