Editorial Feature

Understanding IBM's 1000 Qubit Quantum Chip

Several companies are developing software and hardware for modern computers. IBM, The International Business Machines Corporation, whose headquarters is situated in New York, is the frontrunner in providing valuable services related to the fields of cloud computing, AI, and especially quantum computers. 

IBM has successfully developed a quantum processor chip, which consists of more than 1000 qubits. IBM announced in 2020 that it would work towards developing a quantum chip incorporating more than 1000 bits; this milestone was achieved as per the expected timeline.

Qubits, Quantum Chip, quantum computer, quantum computing

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A Peek into the Basics

Quantum computers are modern pieces of equipment that utilize the efficient principles of quantum mechanics via specialized hardware components to solve highly complex problems that can’t be solved by traditional computational platforms and computers. For numerically complex simulations and problems, research centers use supercomputers; however, these computers have their computational limitations. Quantum computers, with their unique quantum bits or qubits, hold the potential to overcome these complexities and revolutionize computational capabilities.

In contrast to a classical processor that uses classical bits for operations, a quantum computer employs qubits, enabling the solution of multidimensional quantum algorithms. While a single qubit may not be inherently valuable, it can enter a state of superposition, representing a mix of all potential configurations. Groups of qubits in superposition create intricate computational spaces, providing an efficient platform to represent complex problems.

Quantum computers perform solutions to complex problems by superposition of qubits incorporating all possible computational states. The interference phenomena selectively amplifies certain outcomes, providing solutions to the required problem.

IBM - Leading the Modern Quantum Era

IBM has been investing a significant amount to develop efficient and faster quantum systems. At the start of 2023, IBM showcased the capability of quantum computers to execute circuits for complex problems that surpass the limits of classical simulations. A noisy 127-qubit processor was utilized in the study. Collaborating with UC Berkeley teams, IBM researchers obtained precise results from a quantum computer for a circuit that classical computers couldn't accurately simulate. Additionally, IBM has been among the frontrunners with its specialized software for quantum computers.

1000-Qubit Barrier: IBMs’ Condor Quantum Chip Makes History

IBM has recently demonstrated a new quantum chip called “Condor” comprising 1121 superconducting quantum bit processors based on IBM’s cross-resonance gate technology. The cross-resonance gate is a particular scheme designed to implement a CNOT gate between two qubits with fixed frequencies. The simplicity in implementation and noise resilience have established architectures based on cross-resonance gates with fixed-frequency transmon qubits as a preferred choice for current IBM processors.

Condor represents a groundbreaking advancement in chip design, achieving a 50% increase in qubit density, incorporating advancements in qubit fabrication and laminate size.

Notably, it integrates over a mile of high-density cryogenic flex IO wiring within a single dilution refrigerator. Condor's performance, on par with the previous 433-qubit Osprey, marks a significant innovation milestone, effectively addressing scale challenges and providing valuable insights for future hardware design.

A New Direction for Quantum Chips and Processors

In a strategic shift, IBM introduced a new chip named Heron featuring 133 qubits, showcasing a record-low error rate three times lower than its predecessor. Traditional error correction methods often require over 1,000 physical qubits for each logical qubit, necessitating millions of physical qubits for practical computations.

However, IBM is now exploring quantum low-density parity check (qLDPC) as an alternative error correction scheme. This approach aims to significantly reduce the error rate, potentially achieving effective error correction with a few qLDPC-corrected qubits in around 400 physical qubits, emphasizing a networked chip architecture.

To accommodate the requirements of the qLDPC technique, each qubit needs direct connections to at least six others, surpassing the typical connectivity of two or three neighbors in traditional superconducting chips.

IBM's strategy involves adding a layer to the design of its quantum chips to facilitate the additional connections mandated by the qLDPC scheme. This adjustment aims to enhance the qubit connectivity and leverage the benefits of the alternative error-correction approach.

100,000 Qubit Chip: IBM Sets a New Target

The news of IBM developing a 1000 qubit chip has taken the quantum sector by storm. IBM has unveiled its plan to develop a much more advanced and efficient quantum processor chip consisting of 100,000 qubits by 2033.

In this mega project, the experts at IBM are collaborating with the research teams from the University of Tokyo and the University of Chicago. Each research team will focus on a specific aspect of the project.

The University of Tokyo will be responsible for identifying and scaling end-to-end quantum computational algorithms. Along with this, their experts will also focus on the logistics and supply chain management of the project as essential resources such as cryogenic cooling equipment and control system devices in abundant supply will be required. This collaborative initiative is designed to address challenges that may surpass the capabilities of even the most advanced classical supercomputers.

The University of Chicago will be spearheading efforts to integrate quantum communication with quantum computation, focusing on classical and quantum parallelization, quantum networks, and enhancing middleware for quantum systems.

Their research aims to advance technologies such as serverless quantum execution, circuit knitting, and physics-informed error resilience, enabling the execution of programs across diverse quantum systems. Circuit knitting involves breaking down large quantum circuits into subcircuits suitable for smaller quantum devices. These initiatives contribute to the development of a comprehensive quantum ecosystem.

Although the jump from a 1000 qubit chip to a 100,000 qubit chip by 2033 seems very difficult, IBM hopes to achieve this ambitious goal.

References and Further Reading

Castelvecchi, D., (2023). IBM releases first-ever 1,000-qubit quantum chip. [Online]
Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-03854-1

Gambetta, J., (2023). Quantum Roadmap 2033. [Online]
Available at: https://research.ibm.com/blog/quantum-roadmap-2033

IBM, (2023). Charting the course to 100,000 qubits. [Online]
Available at: https://research.ibm.com/blog/100k-qubit-supercomputer

IBM, (2023). IBM Debuts Next-Generation Quantum Processor & IBM Quantum System Two, Extends Roadmap to Advance Era of Quantum Utility. [Online]
Available at: https://newsroom.ibm.com/2023-12-04-IBM-Debuts-Next-Generation-Quantum-Processor-IBM-Quantum-System-Two,-Extends-Roadmap-to-Advance-Era-of-Quantum-Utility?mhsrc=ibmsearch_a&mhq=quantum

IBM, (2023). What is Quantum Computing?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ibm.com/topics/quantum-computing

Kim, Y., Eddins, A., Anand, S. et al. (2023). Evidence for the utility of quantum computing before fault tolerance. Nature 618, 500–505. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06096-3

Mandelbaum, R., Davis, R., Janechek, J. & Letzter, R., (2023). You need 100 qubits to accelerate discovery with quantum. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ibm.com/quantum/blog/100-qubit-utility

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Ibtisam Abbasi

Written by

Ibtisam Abbasi

Ibtisam graduated from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. During his academic career, he has worked on several research projects and has successfully managed several co-curricular events such as the International World Space Week and the International Conference on Aerospace Engineering. Having won an English prose competition during his undergraduate degree, Ibtisam has always been keenly interested in research, writing, and editing. Soon after his graduation, he joined AzoNetwork as a freelancer to sharpen his skills. Ibtisam loves to travel, especially visiting the countryside. He has always been a sports fan and loves to watch tennis, soccer, and cricket. Born in Pakistan, Ibtisam one day hopes to travel all over the world.


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