IBM announces a 1000 qubit quantum computer by 2023

The computer company will launch IBM Quantum Condor in 2023, the first quantum computer with more than 1000 qubits.

Classical computers run on a basic digital binary knowledge of 1 and 0. Whereas quantum computers are designed to be much more flexible. In order to understand how they function, researchers must expand their understanding of how to express qubit states mathematically.

The competition is a tight one. In recent findings, Honeywell has created a powerful quantum computer which they claim is better than any of its predecessors. It was measured by IBM’s preferred quantum volume metric. Quantum volume grades a machine based on three characteristics: the number of qubits, the level of connectivity between the qubits, and the qubit’s general quality, meaning their ability to avoid an error.

Currently, the most powerful quantum computers have only a few dozen qubits. A number still too low to be able to outperform traditional supercomputers on a practical level. A few weeks ago, however, IBM announced that by 2023 it will release a quantum computer with more than a thousand qubits, 1,121 to be precise. The new product, called IBM Quantum Condor, has been defined by the same company as a milestone for the development of future quantum computers.

As reported in an article published in Science, IBM researchers have succeeded in developing protocols to control multi-qubit systems. And also keep a quantum system more stable. Reducing the error due to perturbations coming from outside that tend to interfere and therefore damage the operation of quantum devices.

IBM in a recent software demonstration showed the usage of lithium hydride molecule (LiH), modelled on a quantum computer in 9 hours. The same process earlier used to take about 45 days. This demonstration showed the scope to significantly reduce the cost and turn-around time through the usage of such technology.

On the other hand, IBM was one of the first companies to concentrate on the construction of quantum computers. And in the last two years, it seems to have made up for the delay it initially accrued with Google.

The most powerful quantum computer produced by IBM to date is called the Hummingbird. It can count on 65 qubits, and which follows the 27-qubit Falcon made in 2019. The road map now announced by the company involves gradual steps. Starting with the construction of a first 127 qubit computer in 2021 which will be called Eagle. Thanks to the provision of further technological updates, Eagle will allow to effectively eject a large density of classic control signals and protect the qubits in a separate layer, maintaining high coherence times.

The realization of Osprey, a 433 qubit quantum computer, will follow in 2022. This new system will be the result of innovative design techniques that aim to build smaller and smaller chips without sacrificing performance and introducing additional sources of noise. All of this will lead to the release of the 1,121 qubit quantum computer in 2023, which will have incorporated the ability to run longer circuits, the ability to implement error correction, and to scale devices.

Condor will be a system that is already complex enough to achieve Quantum Advantage, which is the condition in which quantum computing can demonstrate a significant advantage in terms of performance over traditional computers. From here on, the road towards the development of ever more powerful quantum computers will be easier to follow. In fact, the Quantum Condor should follow the project of a liquid helium super refrigerator (or cryostat) 3 meters high and almost 2 meters deep, capable of maintaining a quantum computer at 1 million qubits, a goal for which, however, the company has not set a date.

These quantum supercomputers, according to IBM researchers themselves, will be able to revolutionize various sectors, from neural networks to the creation of economic models, from the study of new drugs to weather forecasts, up to many other possibilities.

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