IBM Develops Prototype Super Fridge for Cooling Large Quantum Computers

IBM announced it has developed a proof-of-concept dilution refrigerator to house future large-scale quantum computers.

The “super fridge,” known as Project Goldeneye, can cool 1.7 cubic meters of volume—up from around 0.7 meters on current large fridges. That's about three times the space of an average US refrigerator.

These temperatures are required for performing state-of-the-art physics experiments and potentially running large quantum processors.

According to IBM, today’s dilution refrigerators are limited in a number of ways: the size of the quantum physics experiments we can fit inside them; the number of input/output ports; their cooling power. Goldeneye may not be slated for use with any of the IBM Quantum processors we're developing today, but building it taught us important lessons on how to overcome these challenges.

Goldeneye will soon move to our IBM Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, where the team will be exploring large scale cryogenic systems to best develop the cooling needs of tomorrow’s quantum data centers, such as the Bluefors Kide platform under development for use with IBM Quantum System Two.

Project Goldeneye features an all-new construction of the frame and cryostat—the main, barrel-shaped component responsible for the cooling—to maximize experimental volume while reducing noise and achieving the temperatures required for cooling experimental quantum hardware.

 The design is modular, which made prototyping, assembly, and disassembly a much easier lift for just a team of four IBM engineers. Other large dilution refrigerators may require larger cranes and a dozen or more technicians for assembly and disassembly.

The cryostat also features a clamshell design, allowing the outer vacuum chamber to open sideways and eliminating the need to remove the entire external shell to access the hardware inside. Most dilution refrigerators in use today require a team of operators to function properly, but Goldeneye’s fully automated system includes a specially designed jib crane that could one day allow even a single person to run the fridge—which can be monitored remotely with the help of an open-source visualization platform.

And despite its size, Goldeneye is efficient, it requires less space than present-day, large-scale dilution refrigerators in order to accommodate an equivalent amount of quantum hardware, according to IBM.

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