IBM makes quantum processor upgrades for IBM Q systems

IBM Q research
Business technology major IBM announced quantum processor upgrades for its IBM Q early-access commercial systems.

The upgrade in quantum hardware is part of IBM strategy to strengthen focus on systems, software, applications and enablement.

The upgraded IBM Q systems, which will be available online to clients, will have a 20 qubit processor, featuring improvements in superconducting qubit design, connectivity and packaging. Coherence times (the amount of time available to perform quantum computations) lead the field with an average value of 90 microseconds, and allow high-fidelity quantum operations.

IBM has measured an operational prototype 50 qubit processor with similar performance metrics. This new processor expands will be made available in the next generation IBM Q systems.

Clients will have online access to the refreshed IBM Q systems by the end of 2017 and there will be more upgrades during 2018.

IBM first launched a working quantum computer online for anyone to freely access in May 2016. 18 months later, IBM brought online a 5 and 16 qubit system for public access through the IBM Q experience and developed the world’s most advanced public quantum computing ecosystem.

“We can scale IBM processors up to 50 qubits due to tremendous feats of science and engineering,” said Dario Gil, vice president of AI and IBM Q, IBM Research.

IBM Q will improve its devices including the quality of qubits, circuit connectivity, and error rates of operations to increase the depth for running quantum algorithms. IBM expanded the coherence times for the 20 qubit processor by 2x as compared with 5 and 16 qubit systems on IBM Q experience within six months.

Through the IBM Q experience, over 60,000 users have run over 1.7M quantum experiments and generated over 35 third-party research publications. Users have registered from over 1500 universities, 300 high schools, and 300 private institutions worldwide, many of whom are accessing the IBM Q experience as part of their formal education.

“I use IBM Q experience and QISKit as a part of my classroom teaching on quantum computing. Now, our enrollments are skyrocketing, drawing excitement from top students from a very wide range of disciplines,” said Andrew Houck, professor of electrical engineering, Princeton University.

IBM rolled out its QISKit project, an open-source software developer kit to program and run quantum computers. IBM Q scientists have now expanded QISKit to enable users to create quantum computing programs and execute them on one of IBM’s quantum processors or quantum simulators available online.

Recent additions to QISKit include new functionality and visualization tools for studying the state of the quantum system, integration of QISKit with the IBM Data Science Experience, a compiler that maps desired experiments onto the available hardware, and worked examples of quantum applications.

“QISKit has been crucial in helping us to understand what algorithms–and real-world use cases–might be viable to run on near-term processors,” said Matt Johnson, CEO of QC Ware.