On the occasion of Think Boston this week, IBM presents the updated roadmap for its R&D around quantum computing. This predicts a 1000-qubit universal quantum processor by 2023, as well as the integration of a serverless approach into its quantum software stack. By 2025, it plans to build clusters of processors that provide computing power of more than 4,158 qubits. Codename: Kookaburra.
IBM is launching today, in Boston, a series of Think 2022 conferences that it will reject in 11 other cities, including Paris, where the event will be held on June 8. On the program, the focus on its 5 key areas of the new IBM is exempt from its managed services branch: data, automation with AI, cyber security, modernization of IS with hybrid cloud and consulting. With experts, workshops and masterclasses on these topics. Two weeks ago, the positive results for Q1 2022 (+ 11% on revenue) confirmed the validity of the strategy for CEO Arvind Krishna and the division from Kyndryl, which has been in place since the beginning of November.
Therefore, on the eve of the Think on Tour conference cycle, it is “a very different IBM” that is on the rise, “re-focused on technology” with a very committed advisory axis, as described yesterday Rob Thomas, VP of IBM’s Global Sales Manager, emphasizes the importance of the investments made during an online press briefing. Among the themes highlighted at Think Boston are the adoption of artificial intelligence, but also the acceleration of competition in quantum computers with, by 2025, the goal of a 4000-qubit processor that brings together modularly scaled processor clusters. In addition, IBM further strengthens its SAP Rise partnership to bring SAP customers’ applications to the cloud. Finally, Rob Thomas announced a major training effort to increase the number of computer scientists, data engineers and cybersecurity skills.
1000-qubit Condor processor in 2023
IBM has updated its quantum computer roadmap outlining planned developments through 2025 and beyond. (Credit: IBM) Enlarge image
At Think Boston, IBM presents its new roadmap for the era of “practical” quantum computers, as it calls it. It implemented its 2020 roadmap goals, which included the 127-qubit Eagle processor “with quantum circuits that cannot be simulated reliably and accurately on a conventional computer,” he said in a statement. Another advancement in the ability to simulate a molecule using Qiskit Runtime, its execution environment containerized for quantum programs that have been significantly accelerated (x120). By the end of this year, IBM finally plans to unveil its 433-qubit Osprey processor as planned.
In 2023, the goals of further simplifying the development experience with Qiskit Runtime in the cloud will continue. IBM will also offer a serverless approach within its quantum software stack, which, he says, should “mark a critical step in the intelligent and efficient distribution of problems between quantum systems and classical systems”. On the hardware side, next year should see the release of the first universal quantum processor, Condor, which should provide theoretical computing power of over 1000 qubits. “By combining modular quantum processors with a classic infrastructure, orchestrated by Qiskit Runtime, we build a platform that allows users to easily incorporate quantum computations into their workflows to tackle the significant challenges of our time,” said Jay Gambetta, Vice President of Quantum Computing company, in a statement.
A prototype of the Quantum System Two operational in 2023
In its updated roadmap, the scalability of quantum processors will be developed in three ways. The first consists in being able to parallelize operations between several processors. The next step is the implementation of short-range couplers at the processor level. These will closely connect several chips together to form a larger processor. This will introduce a basic modularity that is the key to scalability, says IBM. Finally, the 3rd component relates to the communication connections between quantum processors. IBM offers links to connect clusters of processors in a larger quantum system. These three scalability techniques will be used to reach the 2025 target of a 4,000+ qubit processor codenamed Kookaburra.
In terms of software, IBM has already in 2023 indicated that it plans to provide other primitives to simplify development with Qiskit Runtime. As for Quantum Serverless (discussed above), which is also planned for next year, it will help to intelligently and flexibly switch between classic and quantum resources, “thereby forming the substance of the quantum supercomputer”. These technologies will be integrated into IBM’s Quantum System Two, whose infrastructure will allow multiple quantum processors to be interconnected. A prototype of this system should be operational by 2023.
Installation of a Quantum System One in Japan by the Kawasaki Business Incubation Center, where IBM’s quantum system went live in the summer of 2021. (Credit: IBM)
Finally, IBM also says it is working in the field of cybersecurity to protect data from future threats. The vendor recalls the concern of seeing data protected today being stolen for future decryption using quantum techniques. In this area, he will offer training in quantum encryption to managers and their cybersecurity teams and will be able for companies to assess their exposure to the risk of associated attacks.