USRA Upgrades D-Wave Quantum Computer to 2000 Qubits

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Today the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) announced it has upgraded its current quantum annealing computer to a D-Wave 2000Q system. The computer offers the promise for solving challenging problems in a variety of applications including machine learning, scheduling, diagnostics, medicine and biology among others.

The newly upgraded system, which resides at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center, has 2031 quantum bits (qubits) in its working graph–nearly double the number of qubits compared to the previous processor. It has several system enhancements that enable more control over the adiabatic quantum computing process allowing it to solve larger and more complex optimization problems than were previously possible.

The Quantum AI Lab, in its first four years of operation, has supported diverse research by industry, academia and government research organizations,” said Dr. David Bell, Director of the USRA Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science. “This has included research on the use of quantum computing for a range of applications including machine learning, planning and scheduling, diagnostics, medicine, biology, and finance.”

Scientists in the Quantum AI Lab have directly collaborated with researchers from academia and industry, and through NASA, the Quantum AI Lab serves as a resource for multiple government research organizations to test and evaluate quantum computing approaches and applications using state-of-the-art quantum computers.

Dr. Eugene Tu, Center Director at NASA’s Ames Research Center stated that “Scientists at NASA Ames continue to explore the potential of quantum computing—and quantum annealing algorithms in particular—to aid in the many challenging computational problems involved in NASA missions.” He further affirmed that “NASA looks forward to advancements in this technology to achieve these goals.”

The D-Wave 2000Q system is the first installation in the United States. With this third generation processor up and running in the lab, USRA has also released a new Request for Proposals (RFP) to use the computer. As part of USRA’s management of the science operations for the Quantum AI Lab, USRA is able to allocate 20% of the computing time free of cost to university and industrial research organizations. Details of this research opportunity are available online.

Google has a team of experimentalists and theorists focused on making practical quantum computing a reality,” said Sergio Boixo, Tech Lead of the Quantum AI Theory Group at Google. “Quantum annealers are one of the platforms that we are investigating, and we are cautiously optimistic that phenomena in quantum physics, such as many-body delocalization, will unlock the potential of quantum enhanced optimization.”

Through these collaborative efforts, the Quantum AI Lab team is continuing to explore ways that quantum annealing computers might significantly improve the capability for organizations to find high quality solutions for a range of complex optimization problems, and to enhance the performance of machine learning systems. The objective is to identify the best approaches for achieving significant speed up as compared to the capabilities of the best known algorithms that run on classical computers.

The collaboration between NASA and USRA builds on a thirty-year history of collaboration between the USRA Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science (RIACS) and the NASA Ames Research Center, which started with a focus on supercomputing and artificial intelligence, and has extended that focus to include the intersection of quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology and engineering.

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