Posts Tagged ‘qubit’

Pushing Quantum Onto the Cloud

September 4, 2020

Did you ever imagine the cloud would become your quantum computing platform, a place where you would run complex quantum algorithms requiring significant specialized processing across multi-qubit machines available at a click? But that is exactly what is happening.

IBM started it a few years back by making their small qubit machines available in the cloud and even larger ones now. Today Xanadu is offering 8-qubit or 12-qubit chips, and even a 24-qubit chip in the next month or so, according to the Toronto-based company.

Xanadu quantum processor

As DancingDinosaur has previously reported, there are even more: Google reports a quantum computer lab with five machines and Honeywell has six quantum machines. D-Wave is another along with more startups, including nQ, Quantum Circuits, and Rigetti Computing.

D-Wave is another along with more startups, including nQ, Quantum Circuits, and Rigetti Computing.In September, Xanadu introduced its quantum cloud platform. This allows developers to access its gate-based photonic quantum processors with 8-qubit or 12-qubit chips across the cloud.

Photonics-based quantum machines have certain advantages over other platforms, according to the company. Xanadu’s quantum processors operate at room temperature, not low Kelvin temperatures. They can easily integrate into an existing fiber optic-based telecommunication infrastructure, enabling quantum computers to be networked. It also offers scalability and fault tolerance, owing to error-resistant physical qubits and flexibility in designing error correction codes. Xanadu’s type of qubit is based on squeezed states – a special type of light generated by its own chip-integrated silicon photonic devices, it claims.

DancingDinosaur recommends you check out Xanadu’s documentation and details. It does not have sufficient familiarity with photonics, especially as related to quantum computing, to judge any of the above statements. The company also notes it offers a cross-platform Python library for simulating and executing programs on quantum photonic hardware. Its open source tools are available on GitHub.

Late in August IBM has unveiled a new milestone on its quantum computing road map, achieving the company’s highest Quantum Volume to date. By following the link, you see that Quantum Value is a metric conceived by IBM to measure and compare quantum computing power. DancingDinosaur is not aware of any other quantum computing vendors using it, which doesn’t mean anything of course. Quantum computing is so new and so different and with many players joining in with different approaches it will be years before anadu see what metrics prove most useful. 

To come up with its Quantum Volume rating, IBM  combined a series of new software and hardware techniques to improve overall performance, IBM has upgraded one of its newest 27-qubit, systems to achieve the high Quantum Volume rating. The company has made a total of 28 quantum computers available over the last four years through the IBM Quantum Experience, which companies join to gain access to its quantum machines and tools, including its software development toolset, 

Do not confuse Quantum Volume with Quantum Advantage, the point where certain information processing tasks can be performed more efficiently or cost effectively on a quantum computer versus a conventional one. Quantum Advantage will require improved quantum circuits, the building blocks of quantum applications. Quantum Volume, notes IBM, measures the length and complexity of circuits – the higher the Quantum Volume, the higher the potential for exploring solutions to real world problems across industry, government, and research.

To achieve its Quantum Volume milestone, the company focused on a new set of techniques and improvements that used knowledge of the hardware to optimally run the Quantum Volume circuits. These hardware-aware methods are extensible and will improve any quantum circuit run on any IBM Quantum system, resulting in improvements to the experiments and applications which users can explore. These techniques will be available in upcoming releases and improvements to the IBM Cloud software services and the cross-platform open source software development kit (SDK) Qiskit. The IBM Quantum team has shared details on the technical improvements made across the full stack to reach Quantum Volume 64 in a preprint released on arXiv, today.

What is most exciting is that the latest quantum happenings are things quantum you can access over the cloud without having to cool your data center to near zero Kelvin temperatures. If you try any of these, DancingDinosaur would love to hear how it goes.

Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer, is DancingDinosaur. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at

IBM Introduces First Universal Commercial Quantum Computers

March 9, 2017

A few years ago DancingDinosaur first encountered the possibility of quantum computing. It was presented as a real but distant possibility. This is not something I need to consider I thought at the time.  By the time it is available commercially I will be long retired and probably six feet under. Well, I was wrong.

This week IBM unveiled its IBM Q quantum systems. IBM Q will be leading Watson and blockchain to deliver the most advanced set of services on the IBM Cloud platform. There are organizations using it now, and DancingDinosaur continues to be living and working still.

IBM Quantum Computing scientists Hanhee Paik (left) and Sarah Sheldon (right) examine the hardware inside an open dilution fridge at the IBM Q Lab

As IBM explains: While technologies that currently run on classical (or conventional) computers, such as Watson, can help find patterns and insights buried in vast amounts of existing data, quantum computers will deliver solutions to multi-faceted problems where patterns cannot be seen because the data doesn’t exist and the possibilities that you need to explore are too enormous to ever be processed by conventional computers.

Just don’t retire your z or Power system in favor on an IBM Q yet. As IBM explained at a recent briefing on the quantum computing the IBM Q universal quantum computers will be able to do any type of problem that conventional computers do today. However, many of today’s workloads, like on-line transaction processing, data storage, and web serving will continue to run more efficiently on conventional systems. The most powerful quantum systems of the next decade will be a hybrid of quantum computers with conventional computers to control logic and operations on large amounts of data.

The most immediate use cases will involve molecular dynamics, drug design, and materials. The new quantum machine, for example, will allow the healthcare industry to design more effective drugs faster and at less cost and the chemical industry to develop new and improved materials.

Another familiar use case revolves around optimization in finance and manufacturing. The problem here comes down to computers struggling with optimization involving an exponential number of possibilities. Quantum systems, noted IBM, hold the promise of more accurately finding the most profitable investment portfolio in the financial industry, the most efficient use of resources in manufacturing, and optimal routes for logistics in the transportation and retail industries.

To refresh the basics of quantum computing.  The challenges invariably entail exponential scale. You start with 2 basic ideas; 1) the uncertainty principle, which states that attempting to observe a state in general disturbs it while obtaining only partial information about the state. Or 2) where two systems can exist in an entangled state, causing them to behave in ways that cannot be explained by supposing that each has some state of its own. No more zero or 1 only.

The basic unit of quantum computing is the qubit. Today IBM is making available a 5 qubit system, which is pretty small in the overall scheme of things. Large enough, however, to experiment and test some hypotheses; things start getting interesting at 20 qubits. An inflexion point, IBM researchers noted, occurs around 50 qubits. At 50-100 qubits people can begin to do some serious work.

This past week IBM announced three quantum computing advances: the release of a new API for the IBM Quantum Experience that enables developers and programmers to begin building interfaces between IBM’s existing 5 qubit cloud-based quantum computer and conventional computers, without needing a deep background in quantum physics. You can try the 5 qubit quantum system via IBM’s Quantum Experience on Bluemix here.

IBM also released an upgraded simulator on the IBM Quantum Experience that can model circuits with up to 20 qubits. In the first half of 2017, IBM plans to release a full SDK on the IBM Quantum Experience for users to build simple quantum applications and software programs. Only the publically available 5 qubit quantum system with a web-based graphical user interface now; soon to be upgraded to more qubits.

 IBM Research Frontiers Institute allows participants to explore applications for quantum computing in a consortium dedicated to making IBM’s most ambitious research available to its members.

Finally, the IBM Q Early Access Systems allows the purchase of access to a dedicated quantum system hosted and managed by IBM. Initial system is 15+ qubits, with a fast roadmap promised to 50+ qubits.

“IBM has invested over decades to growing the field of quantum computing and we are committed to expanding access to quantum systems and their powerful capabilities for the science and business communities,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director for IBM Research. “We believe that quantum computing promises to be the next major technology that has the potential to drive a new era of innovation across industries.”

Are you ready for quantum computing? Try it today on IBM’s Quantum Experience through Bluemix. Let me know how it works for you.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at and here.

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