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IBM delivers highest quantum volume to date

The company said it has achieved a quantum volume of 64 through full-stack improvements.


Credit: IBM

IBM said it has reached a new milestone on its quantum computing roadmap by achieving a Quantum Volume (QV) 64 on an upgraded 27-qubit (quantum bit) client system deployed within the IBM Q Network–the company’s highest quantum volume to date.

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Quantum computers tackle problems above a certain size and complexity and require a new kind of computing with significant amounts of computational power. IBM has made a total of 28 quantum computers available over the last four years. 

QV is a benchmark for quantum systems indicating the size of the quantum circuits that can be run on them, according to IBM. It measures the length and complexity of circuits: The higher it is, the higher the potential for exploring solutions to real-world problems across industry, government, and research, the company said.

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A Quantum Advantage is the point where certain information processing tasks can be performed more efficiently or cost effectively on a quantum computer, versus a classical one, the company said. It requires improved quantum circuits, which are the building blocks of quantum applications, IBM said.

To achieve this latest milestone, the company focused on a new set of techniques and improvements that used knowledge of the hardware to optimally run the QV circuits, IBM said. 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, the company said.

The significance of this “is in the circuits that can be run on our quantum computers,” said Jerry Chow, senior manager of quantum system technology at IBM, and one of the authors of a research paper that shares technical details on how the researchers attained a QV 64. “A higher Quantum Volume means that quantum computers can run larger, more complex quantum circuits.”

Circuits are the building blocks of quantum applications, similar to how logic circuits are the building blocks of classical computation, Chow explained. “Running longer, more complex quantum circuits [are] a critical step to quantum computers’ ability to be widely usable, accessible and reliable–and solve a real-world problem.”

The goal is to progress toward machines capable of implementing circuits with a QA, meaning certain information processing tasks can be performed more efficiently or cost effectively than classical circuits, according to the paper, which was released Thursday on arXiv

Clients using IBM quantum computers are interested in exploring and developing applications with a QA, Chow said. “Having access to a quantum computer with a Quantum Volume 64, in turn, gives them access to a new set of techniques and improvements to get more out of real quantum hardware, including better compilation of circuits, faster gates, decoupling noise from idle qubits and better readouts–the elements that will help them progress toward Quantum Advantage.”  

There is a considerable amount of quantum computing research being done across several fields, such as chemistry, finance, and machine learning, among others, Chow said.

“What the improvement in Quantum Volume gives us is the ability to apply more complex circuits, furthering research in eventually building applications that could solve real-world problems exploiting Quantum Advantage,” he said.

The techniques that helped achieve QV 64 can also apply to all quantum circuits on any IBM device, and 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, IBM said.

There are 250,000+ registered users of the IBM Quantum Experience, according to IBM. Users routinely execute more than one billion hardware circuits a day on IBM Quantum systems on the IBM Cloud, and researchers have published over 250 papers based on work on IBM Quantum systems, the company said.

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