IBM Unveils Latest System in Its Quantum Computing Lineup

Rodiano Bonacci
Gennaio 11, 2019

The tech giant also notes that its system - which includes reinforced chambers to hold the qubits, tanks of liquid helium to keep the quantum bits at just above absolute zero, around -460 Fahrenheit, and racks of high precision electronics all tied together by hundreds of yards of cabling to control qubit action - aims to address one of the most challenging aspects of quantum computing, "coherence time".

"The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing", said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research in the company's media release.

The system is the latest step by IBM in its quantum-computing effort.

IBM also notes that the airtight enclosure housing the Q System One quantum computer opens effortlessly, which means maintenance and upgrades shouldn't warrant extended downtime.

Drawing inspiration from classical computers which are known to combine multiple components into an integrated architecture optimized to work together, IBM made a decision to draw inspiration and apply it to quantum computing with the first integrated universal quantum computing system. Firmware was created to manage the system's health and allow upgrades to be made with no downtime, and classical computation is enabled so quantum algorithms can be accessed via the cloud and executed in a hybrid fashion.

To design 20qubit Q System One, IBM assembled a team of industrial designers and manufacturers to work alongside IBM Research scientists and systems engineers, including United Kingdom industrial and interior design studios Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio and Goppion, a Milan-based manufacturer of high-end museum display cases that protect the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Quantum computers are based on the laws of quantum mechanics in that they take advantage of the behavior of atoms and subatomic particles to address hard computational challenges, such as those involved with exponential scaling. As the Q system has 20 qubits, it is still short of the 50 qubits that most researchers believe will be required real-life applications.

Looking at IBM's Q System One strengthens faith in commercial availability of quantum computers.

IBM said the system's qubits managed a coherence time of 75 microseconds.

The entire structure of the new quantum computer is placed inside of a 9 meter cube, made entirely from 1cm thick borosilicate glass.

"The free and publicly available IBM Q Experience has been continuously operating since May of 2016 and now boasts more than 100,000 users, who have run more than 6.7 million experiments and published more than 130 third-party research papers", according to IBM.

For so long, the quantum computer was merely a fantasy but the race to build the world's first quantum computer gave scientists the motivation build the most powerful and advanced computer that puts even the best ones to shame.

As part of the agreement, ExxonMobil becomes the first energy company to join the IBM Q Network, a worldwide community of Fortune 500 companies, startups, academic institutions and national research labs working to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for science and business.

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