IBM’s Roadmap for Scaling Quantum Technology
(IBM.Blogs) On September 15, IBM released the roadmap that it thinks will take us from the noisy, small-scale devices of today to the million-plus qubit devices of the future. The blog announcement of IBM’s Quantum Roadmap is summarized here, but readers are encouraged to read the complete announcement.
IBM’s team is developing a suite of scalable, increasingly larger and better processors, with a 1,000-plus qubit device, called IBM Quantum Condor, targeted for the end of 2023. In order to house even more massive devices beyond Condor, we’re developing a dilution refrigerator larger than any currently available commercially. This roadmap puts IBM on a course toward the future’s million-plus qubit processors thanks to industry-leading knowledge, multidisciplinary teams, and agile methodology improving every element of these systems. All the while, our hardware roadmap sits at the heart of a larger mission: to design a full-stack quantum computer deployed via the cloud that anyone around the world can program.
The IBM Quantum team builds quantum processors—computer processors that rely on the mathematics of elementary particles in order to expand our computational capabilities, running quantum circuits rather than the logic circuits of digital computers. The biggest challenge facing IBM’s team today is figuring out how to control large systems of these qubits for long enough, and with few enough errors, to run the complex quantum circuits required by future quantum applications.
IBM has been exploring superconducting qubits since the mid-2000s, increasing coherence times and decreasing errors to enable multi-qubit devices in the early 2010s. Continued refinements and advances at every level of the system from the qubits to the compiler allowed us to put the first quantum computer in the cloud in 2016.
Simultaneous to IBM’s efforts to improve smaller devices, they are also incorporating the many lessons learned into an aggressive roadmap for scaling to larger systems. In fact, this month IBM quietly released our 65-qubit IBM Quantum Hummingbird processor to our IBM Q Network members.
Next year, IBM will debut its 127-qubit IBM Quantum Eagle processor. Eagle features several upgrades in order to surpass the 100-qubit milestone: crucially, through-silicon vias (TSVs) and multi-level wiring provide the ability to effectively fan-out a large density of classical control signals while protecting the qubits in a separated layer in order to maintain high coherence times.
The development required to build Condor will have solved some of the most pressing challenges in the way of scaling up a quantum computer. However, as IBM explores realms even further beyond the thousand qubit mark, today’s commercial dilution refrigerators will no longer be capable of effectively cooling and isolating such potentially large, complex devices. That’s why they are also introducing a 10-foot-tall and 6-foot-wide “super-fridge,” internally codenamed “Goldeneye,” a dilution refrigerator larger than any commercially available today.
Knowing the way forward doesn’t remove the obstacles; we face some of the biggest challenges in the history of technological progress. But, with our clear vision, a fault-tolerant quantum computer now feels like an achievable goal within the coming decade.