IBM has announced the expansion of its road map for achieving large-scale, practical quantum computing. This road map includes plans for new modular architectures and networking that will allow IBM quantum systems to have larger qubit-counts—up to hundreds of thousands of qubits. To enable them with the speed and quality necessary for practical quantum computing, IBM said it plans to continue building an increasingly intelligent software orchestration layer to efficiently distribute workloads and abstract away infrastructure challenges.
“In just 2 years, our team has made incredible progress on our existing quantum road map. Executing on our vision has given us clear visibility into the future of quantum and what it will take to get us to the practical quantum computing era,” said Darío Gil, senior vice president, director of research, IBM. “With our Qiskit Runtime platform and the advances in hardware, software, and theory goals outlined in our road map, we intend to usher in an era of quantum-centric supercomputers that will open up large and powerful computational spaces for our developer community, partners and clients.”
IBM originally announced its quantum road map in 2020, and, since then, the company said, it has delivered on each of the targets on its timeline. This includes IBM Eagle, a 127-qubit processor with quantum circuits that cannot be reliably simulated exactly on a classical computer, and whose architecture laid the groundwork for processors with increasingly more qubits. Additionally, IBM has delivered a 120x speedup in the ability to simulate a molecule using Qiskit Runtime, IBM’s containerized quantum computing service and programming model, compared to a prior experiment in 2017.
Later this year, IBM said, it plans to continue the previously laid out targets on its road map and unveil its 433-qubit processor, IBM Osprey.
With the new expanded road map, IBM is targeting three regimes of scalability for its quantum processors.
The first involves building capabilities to classically communicate and parallelize operations across multiple processors. This will open the avenue to a broader set of techniques necessary for practical quantum systems, such as improved error mitigation techniques and intelligent workload orchestration, by combining classical compute resources with quantum processors that can extend in size.
The second step in delivering scalable architecture involves deploying short-range, chip-level couplers. These couplers will closely connect multiple chips together to effectively form a single and larger processor and will introduce fundamental modularity that is key to scaling.
The third component to reaching true scalability involves providing quantum communication links between quantum processors. To do so, IBM has proposed quantum communication links to connect clusters together into a larger quantum system.
All three of these scalability techniques will be leveraged toward IBM’s 2025 goal: a 4,000-plus qubit processor built with multiple clusters of modularly scaled processors.
For more information, go to the IBM Research blog at www.research.ibm.com/blog/ibm-quantum-road map-2025.