IBM’s roadmap for building an open quantum software ecosystem

February 5, 2021 12:47 am by Web Desk

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The key features are Qiskit runtime this year for 100x speed increase in program execution, and the capability to run dynamic circuits in 2022, the company said.

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Image: IBM Research

Today, IBM unveiled a quantum computing roadmap that highlights its vision and timeline for full-stack quantum development, including hardware, software, and applications. The roadmap includes increasing the variety of circuits and the capacity of IBM systems to run more circuits quicker, while developing a platform so quantum developers can work in the same integrated cloud-based framework, according to a blog post.

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The roadmap builds upon a hardware roadmap IBM announced in September 2020, showing a clear pathway to over 1,000 qubits, identifying the challenges it anticipates along the way, and proposing solutions to these challenges.

“Creating the right conditions for quantum computing to transform the broader, distributed computing ecosystem within this decade is a gargantuan effort,” the authors wrote.

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Now, the company has help from an open source community’s power and ability to mobilize developers worldwide, plus cloud-native deployment of quantum workloads, the authors wrote. This will help “break down any potential barriers and to democratize access to this new technology as quickly as possible.”

IBM expects developers to work in each of three key segments laying the groundwork for those working higher up in the stack.

  • At the lowest level, quantum kernel developers are creating high-performance quantum circuits with timing and pulse-level controls.

  • Quantum algorithm developers rely on these circuits to develop groundbreaking quantum algorithms that might provide an advantage over present-day classical computing solutions.

  • Finally, quantum model developers apply these algorithms to real-world use cases in order to develop quantum models for chemistry, physics, biology, machine learning, optimization, or even finance.

Kernels. Algorithms. Models.

To get there, IBM has unveiled “crucial updates” for quantum kernel developers.

“This year, we plan to release the Qiskit runtime–an execution environment that increases the capacity to run more circuits at a much faster rate than ever before, and with the capability to store quantum programs so other users can run them as a service,” the authors wrote.

“The Qiskit runtime rethinks the classical-quantum workload so that programs will be uploaded and executed on classical hardware located beside quantum hardware, slashing latencies emerging from communication between the user’s computer and the quantum processor.”

These improvements will lead to a 100x speedup in workloads that exploit iterative circuit execution, the authors said. This will allow IBM’s quantum systems to run jobs in a few hours as opposed to months.

In addition to increasing capacity, IBM systems will also run a wider variety of circuits, the authors said. This will allow users to tackle problems previously inaccessible to any quantum processors, they said.

By 2023, IBM expects “to take developers from operating at the kernel level to working with application modules, laying the foundation for quantum model services and frictionless workflows.”

This will enable them to do more, faster, as IBM implements technologies designed on OpenShift to work alongside quantum computers, the authors said.

“And more developers from different industries will have more reason and opportunity to explore quantum computing within their workflows–no need to learn new tools or languages.”

A frictionless future

Looking to 2025 and beyond, IBM Quantum hopes quantum computing won’t require learning a new programming language and running code separately on a new device, the authors said. The goal is to integrate quantum “into a typical computing workflow just like a graphics card or any other external computing component.”

“We hope that by 2030, companies and users are running billions, if not a trillion quantum circuits a day, perhaps without even realizing that they’re doing so,” the authors said.

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