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IBM to Have 1,121-Qubit Machine by 2023 Based on Its Newly Released Quantum Computing Roadmap
September 25, 2020 News


The existence of quantum computing is not a new concept as physicists have been talking about it since the 1980s. But until now, we are still in the development stage of fully knowing its capabilities. Some of its promises include computing power a thousand times faster than classical computers, virtually unbreakable encryption and other tasks which classical computers cannot do.

Leading technology and pioneer company IBM plans to achieve all of these and beyond through its (still-in-development) quantum computer, set to accomplish a 1,121-qubit computing power by 2023. You can think of a qubit as the normal bit in classical computers (0 or 1), but the difference is, a qubit can be 0 and 1 at the same time – called the superposition. With this technology, a quantum computer can greatly reduce computing times compared to the capability of traditional ones.

“The IBM Quantum team builds quantum processors—computer processors that rely on the mathematics of elementary particles in order to expand our computational capabilities, running quantum circuits rather than the logic circuits of digital computers”, said IBM in a blog about their quantum computing roadmap released this month.

For this year, IBM released its 65-qubit IBM Quantum Hummingbird processor to their IBM Q Network members. This features 8:1 readout multiplexing, combining readout signals from eight qubits into one, reducing the total amount of wiring and components required for readouts and improving the ability to scale, including all the features of their previous Falcon generation of processors.

Next year, IBM will debut its 127-qubit IBM Quantum Eagle processor, featuring several upgrades in order to surpass the 100-qubit milestone: crucially, Through-Silicon Vias (TSVs) and multi-level wiring provide the ability to effectively fan-out a large density of classical control signals while protecting the qubits in a separated layer in order to maintain high coherence times.

By 2022, IBM is planning to introduce its 433-qubit IBM Quantum Osprey system, promising more efficient and denser controls, as well as a cryogenic infrastructure that scales up processors and does not sacrifice the performance of individual qubits, introduce further sources of noise or take up too large a footprint.

IBM will reach its 1,000-qubit mark in 2023, with its 1,121-qubit IBM Quantum Condor processor. “We think of Condor as an inflexion point, a milestone that marks our ability to implement error correction and scale up our devices, while simultaneously complex enough to explore potential Quantum Advantages—problems that we can solve more efficiently on a quantum computer than on the world’s best supercomputers”, IBM explained.

However, as computing power increases, it also requires a more controlled environment, especially for its temperature. Today’s commercial dilution refrigerators will no longer be capable of effectively cooling and isolating such potentially large, complex devices.

“That’s why we’re also introducing a 10-foot-tall and 6-foot-wide ‘super-fridge’, internally codenamed ‘Goldeneye’, a dilution refrigerator larger than any commercially available today. Our team has designed this behemoth with a million-qubit system in mind—and has already begun fundamental feasibility tests”, added IBM.

IBM plans to release these advancements commercially to businesses to aid in their computing tasks and workloads. Beyond this, IBM also envisions a path beyond 1 million-qubit computing power, “a future where quantum interconnects link dilution refrigerators each holding a million qubits like the intranet links supercomputing processors, creating a massively parallel quantum computer capable of changing the world”.