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Alphabet Is Repurposing Google TPUs for Quantum Computing Simulations

By IQT News posted 11 Mar 2021

(VentureBeat) Sandbox at Alphabet, Google parent company Alphabet’s second, secretive software development team, plans to launch a set of APIs called Floq that will allow developers to use tensor processing units (TPUs) to simulate quantum computing workloads. The announcement hints at the potential for hardware originally designed for AI applications to extend into the quantum realm.
According to Sandbox at Alphabet research scientist Guillaume Verdon, Floq, which will initially be made available in alpha to 50 teams in the QHack Open Hackathon, will offer a simulator API that leverages the “bleeding edge” of AI compute for experimentation. The Sandbox at Alphabet team repurposed TPUs, chips developed by Google specifically for AI training and inference, to accelerate simulations in the cloud so that developers can use frontends like TensorFlow Quantum and PennyLane to create quantum models and run them remotely on Floq.
“The team has been experimenting with how to use Floq for physics, machine learning — all kinds of cool applications,” Verdon said. “And we’ve developed our own open source library for tensor networks that runs on TPUs … It’s [surprising] how good the chips are for quantum simulation. It’s almost like they were designed for this task.”
When it launches more broadly, Floq will complement Cirq, Google’s service that gives developers access to its quantum computing hardware. And it’ll compete with a number of other quantum simulators already available on the market, including a service in IBM’s Quantum Experience suite and simulators from Intel, Amazon, and Microsoft.

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