Significant Advances to IBM Quantum Systems & Ecosystem
IBM announced two significant quantum processor upgrades for its IBM Q early-access commercial systems. They represent rapid advances in quantum hardware as IBM continues to drive progress across the entire quantum computing technology stack, with focus on systems, software, applications and enablement.
The first Q systems available online to clients will have a 20 qubit processor, featuring improvements in superconducting qubit design, connectivity and packaging. Coherence times lead the field with an average value of 90 microseconds, and allow high-fidelity quantum operations.
IBM has also successfully built and measured an operational prototype 50 qubit processor with similar performance metrics. This new processor expands upon the 20 qubit architecture and will be made available in the next generation Q systems.
Clients will have online access to the computing power of the first Q systems by the end of 2017, with a series of planned upgrades during 2018. IBM is focused on making available advanced, scalable universal quantum computing systems to clients to explore practical applications.
The latest hardware advances are a result of three generations of development since IBM first launched a working quantum computer online for anyone to freely access in May 2016. Within 18 months, the company has brought online a 5 and 16 qubit system for public access and developed the world's most advanced public quantum computing ecosystem.
Over the next year, scientists will continue to work to improve its devices including the quality of qubits, circuit connectivity, and error rates of operations to increase the depth for running quantum algorithms. Within six months, the team was able to extend the coherence times for the 20 qubit processor to be twice that of the publicly available 5 and 16 qubit systems. In addition to building working systems, IBM continues to grow its robust quantum computing ecosystem, including open-source software tools, applications for near-term systems, and educational and enablement materials for the quantum community.
Through the 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 Q experience as part of their formal education. This form of open access and open research is critical for accelerated learning and implementation of quantum computing.
To augment this ecosystem of quantum researchers and application development, IBM rolled out earlier this year its QISKit project, an open-source software developer kit to program and run quantum computers. Scientists have now expanded QISKit to enable users to create quantum computing programs and execute them on one of IBM's real quantum processors or quantum simulators available online.