By IQT News posted 12 May 2021

(HPCWire) IBM today introduced an enhanced Qiskit Runtime Software for quantum computing, which it says demonstrated 120x speedup in simulating molecules. Qiskit is IBM’s quantum software development platform; the new containerized runtime software runs in the IBM Cloud where it leverages IBM classical hardware and proximity to IBM quantum processors to accelerate performance.
An IBM blog by researchers Blake Johnson and Ismael Faro said, “Last fall, we made the ambitious promise to demonstrate a 100x speedup of quantum workloads in our IBM Quantum roadmap for scaling quantum technology. Today, we’re pleased to announce that we didn’t just meet that goal; we beat it. The team demonstrated a 120x speedup in simulating molecules thanks to a host of improvements, including the ability to run quantum programs entirely on the cloud with Qiskit Runtime.”

Author John Russell has provided an excellent analysis of IBM’s announcement and its significance. He also references IBM’s blog to further explain,

Big Blue reiterated its commitment to finding practical quantum computing use cases: “We hope that the Qiskit Runtime will allow users around the world to take full advantage of the 127 qubit IBM Quantum Eagle device slated for this year — or the 1,121-qubit Condor device planned for 2023. Qiskit Runtime is currently in beta for some members of the IBM Quantum Network.”

The latest IBM test demonstration repeated a past simulation of lithium hydride molecule. Here’s an excerpt from the blog:
“Back in 2017, the IBM Quantum team demonstrated that a quantum computer could simulate the behavior of the  lithium hydride molecule. However, the process of modeling the LiH molecule would take 45 days with today’s quantum computing services, as circuits repeatedly passed back-and-forth between a classical and quantum processor and introduced large latencies. Now, we can solve the same problem in just nine hours — a 120x speedup.

Providing context for the lithium hydride simulation, Smith-Goodson said, “Running chemistry simulations is a complicated process. You’re looking for the lowest energy state of the molecule. To find it requires a back and forth process between a classical computer and a quantum computer running many nested loops across the cloud. The process, called ansatz, allows a researcher to make calculations on the classical computer using iterative data from the quantum machine and making continuous adjustments until the ground state is found.

“This process takes a long time, depending on many factors including technical constraints/issues with the classical computer. Qiskit Runtime makes it much easier to run quantum algorithms like VQE (Variational Quantum Eigensolver) to simulate molecules,” said Smith-Goodson.

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