The Growing Interest in On-Prem Quantum Computing

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By Yuval Boger, Chief Commercial Officer, QuEra Computing

In the rapidly evolving HPC landscape, the promise of quantum computing captivates researchers, industry leaders, and policymakers alike. A new paradigm is emerging as organizations seek to seamlessly blend classical and quantum computing within existing infrastructures. Quantum purchase and lease announcements from organizations such as The Cleveland Clinic, LRZ Supercomputing Center in Germany, or AIST in Japan have heightened interest in on-prem installations.

This presents several important questions, such as: Is there a real need for on-prem quantum or is it a fad?

The State of Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is still nascent, but significant advancements are being made rapidly. Current quantum processors, although not yet surpassing classical supercomputers, are proving their potential in specific area,s such as optimization problems, complex simulations, and machine learning.

Companies and research institutions are leveraging these early-stage quantum computers to experiment and serve as invaluable research and learning tools. By engaging with quantum computing today, businesses and academic institutions can develop the necessary skills and understanding to fully harness the technology as it matures. New algorithms can be developed and tested on a small scale today, anticipating the use of them to produce real value in a few years. This preparation is crucial as quantum computing approaches commercial readiness and begins to impact various industries on a broader scale.

Several factors are driving growing interest in on-premises quantum:

Control Over Usage and Priority. With an on-premises installation, organizations can ensure their teams receive prioritized access to computing resources, reducing wait times for shared cloud-based systems and accelerating research and development efforts. This control means complex computations can be executed with speed and precision.

Data Security and Residency. For organizations handling sensitive data — be it financial, governmental, or health-related — computing in the cloud may pose risks. On-premises quantum computers, co-located with classical supercomputers, keep data within a controlled environment, enhancing privacy and compliance with regulatory standards (such as GDPR), and offering peace of mind that critical information remains secure.

National Programs and Sovereignty. On-prem quantum is integral to many national quantum programs. Countries are tasked with keeping computational resources within their borders, ensuring data sovereignty, and reducing reliance on foreign technology providers. National programs often have goals that extend beyond pure research, including workforce development and maintaining technological leadership. These programs typically advocate for on-premises quantum computers to advance their national agendas.

Yuval Boger of Quera

High Demand and Resource Efficiency. A lesson learned from the rapid rise of artificial intelligence is that demand for computing resources can easily outstrip supply. As AI grew in prominence, organizations struggled to access enough GPU time on the cloud, leading to delays and hindering research. Quantum computing could be poised for similar growth, and organizations fear facing a similar shortage.

Reduced Latency and Enhanced Performance. Proximity matters with hybrid classical-quantum computing. When traditional and quantum systems are co-located within the same data center, latency in hybrid classical/quantum algorithms is minimized, leading to quicker computations and more efficient research.

Customization and Flexibility. On-prem quantum can be tailored to the organization’s computational setup and software stack.

A Magnet for People, Funding and Innovation. On-prem quantum offers a backdrop to attract collaborators, highly skilled people, and grant funding. Together, these can dramatically boost innovation.

Why Not On-prem?

There are other factors to consider that might argue against on-prem quantum installations, including high initial costs, risk of obsolescence due to rapid technological advancements, and the fact that many quantum programs today can still be effectively simulated on classical computers. However, if these considerations are manageable, installing a quantum computer on-site could very well be a strategic advantage for your organization.

Conclusion

While there is undeniable interest in on-premises quantum computing due to the security, control, and resource efficiency it offers, it’s essential to acknowledge the challenges and limitations of this approach.

However, for organizations that prioritize data security, sovereignty, and control over computational resources, the benefits of on-premises quantum computers remain compelling. As quantum computing matures, a hybrid approach that combines classical and quantum with a blend of on-premises and cloud resources, may emerge as the optimal solution.

Yuval Boger is chief commercial officer at neutral atom quantum computing company QuEra, Boston. (Image above is the Quera Aquila system.)

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