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Feature Article

Feature Article

IBM’s Quantum Race to One Million Qubits

The critical test for any integrated circuit technology is its ability to scale to increased integration level. With this in mind, IBM has announced a Technology Roadmap for its superconducting quantum bits (qubits) for the next decade. For further information, read more at HPCwire.

IBM is projecting to double the number of qubits per chip every year for the next decade. The names of their chips are based on birds, starting out with Hummingbird (65 qubit) this month, and expanding to Condor (>1000 qubits) in 2023. At this rate, they are expecting to approach one million qubits by 2030.

These chips are designed to operate in a special refrigerator known as a helium dilution refrigerator at temperatures of less than 0.1 K. Commercially available refrigerators do not have the capacity to cool such large systems of qubits. IBM has been exploring the design of a larger dilution refrigerator that could cool one million qubits, codenamed “Goldeneye”, so that it will be available for testing and packaging the future systems, when needed. Furthermore, they are projecting massively parallel quantum computing systems comprising multiple systems of this scale, linked by true quantum interconnects, for the 2030s.

This assumes, of course, that the performance of these systems will continue to improve exponentially with the scale as expected. This requires increasing the Quantum Volume benchmark and incorporating quantum error correction technology. IBM is confident that they can achieve this.

Technology Spotlight

Technology Spotlight

DNA Storage and Computing at Catalog DNA
Interview with CTO Dave Turek

DNA has long been known as a biological data storage medium, with extremely high density, low energy, low error rates, and high long-term stability. It has been predicted as a medium for digital storage as well, but technological write and read rates have thus far been too slow for practicality.

That may be starting to change, according to a new MIT spinoff company called Catalog DNA. The CTO of Catalog, Dave Turek, until recently a VP with IBM, was recently interviewed in a video at InsideHPC.

Mr. Turek explained that Catalog has developed a prototype write system based on ink-jet printing technology, which enables write speeds of greater than 1 MB per second. This was demonstrated by storing the entire collection of Wikipedia pages (about 14 GB) in a small vial of liquid. Readout was also demonstrated using conventional DNA sequencing machines, although this is still somewhat slower. They anticipate major increases in both writing and reading speeds as the technology develops further. In addition, they believe that this technology can go beyond data storage to logical processing as well.

Further details of how this fabrication technology works is shown in this video.