IBM Reports Accurate Quantum at 100+ Qubits

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced what the company said is a breakthrough in quantum computing, published on the cover of the scientific journal Nature, demonstrating for the first time that quantum systems can produce accurate results at a scale of 100+ qubits “reaching beyond leading classical approaches.”

An IBM research team  conducted an experiment that means it’s possible for a quantum computer to outperform leading classical simulations by learning and mitigating errors in the system, the company said. The team used the IBM Quantum ‘Eagle’ processor composed of 127 superconducting qubits on a chip to generate large, entangled states that simulate the dynamics of spins in a model of material and accurately predict properties such as its magnetization.

To verify the accuracy of this modeling, a team of scientists at UC Berkeley simultaneously performed these simulations on advanced classical computers located at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) and Purdue University. As the scale of the model increased, the quantum computer continued to turn out accurate results with the help of advanced error mitigation techniques, even while the classical computing methods eventually faltered and did not match the IBM Quantum system.

“This is the first time we have seen quantum computers accurately model a physical system in nature beyond leading classical approaches,” said Darío Gil, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research. “To us, this milestone is a significant step in proving that today’s quantum computers are capable, scientific tools that can be used to model problems that are extremely difficult – and perhaps impossible – for classical systems, signaling that we are now entering a new era of utility for quantum computing.”

“One of the ultimate goals of quantum computing is to simulate components of materials that classical computers have never efficiently simulate,” the company said in its announcement. “Modeling these is a crucial step towards the ability to tackle challenges, such as designing more efficient fertilizers, building better batteries and creating new medicines. But today’s quantum systems are inherently noisy and they produce a significant number of errors that hamper performance. This is due to the fragile nature of quantum bits or qubits and disturbances from their environment.”More information on the demonstration can be found at the IBM Research blog.

IBM also announced that its IBM Quantum systems running both on the cloud and on-site at partner locations will be powered by a minimum of 127 qubits, to be completed over the course of the next year.

These processors provide access to computational power large enough to surpass classical methods for certain applications and will offer improved coherence times as well as lower error rates over previous IBM quantum systems. Such capabilities can be combined with continuously advancing error mitigation techniques to enable IBM Quantum systems to meet a new threshold for the industry, which IBM has termed ‘utility-scale,’ a point at which quantum computers could serve as scientific tools to explore a new scale of problems that classical systems may never be able to solve.

credit: IBM

“As we progress our mission to bring useful quantum computing to the world, we have solid evidence of the cornerstones needed to explore an entirely new class of computational problems,” said Jay Gambetta, IBM Fellow and Vice President, IBM Quantum. “By equipping our IBM Quantum systems with processors capable of utility scale, we are inviting our clients, partners and collaborators to bring their hardest problems to explore the limits of today’s quantum systems and to begin extracting real value.”

IBM said its quantum users will be able to run problems on utility-scale processors larger than 100 qubits. The over 2,000 participants in the IBM Quantum Spring Challenge had access to these utility-scale processors as they explored dynamic circuits, a technology that makes it easier to run more-advanced quantum algorithms.

IBM said working groups of IBM Quantum users are exploring quantum in:

  • Healthcare and Life Sciences: led by organizations such as Cleveland Clinic and Moderna, are exploring applications of quantum chemistry and quantum machine learning to challenges such as accelerated molecular discovery and patient risk prediction models.
  • High Energy Physics: comprised of research institutions such as CERN and DESY, are working to identify the best suited quantum calculations, for areas such as fusion modeling.
  • Materials: spearheaded by the teams at Boeing, Bosch, The University of Chicago, Oak Ridge National Lab, ExxonMobil and RIKEN, aim to explore the best methods to build workflows for materials simulation.
  • Optimization: aimed at establishing collaboration across global institutions such as E.ON, Wells Fargo and others to explore questions that progress the identification of optimization problems best suited for quantum advantage in sustainability and finance.