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Think Big: IBM Shows Ambitious Roadmap for Quantum Computing Ecosystem

By IQT News posted 08 Feb 2021

(HPC.Wire) IBM has laid out a more detailed roadmap for bringing quantum computing to practical usefulness. Last fall, IBM spelled out its hardware plans. Today, it spelled out its software ecosystem plans including, among other things, new tools and cloud initiatives. Perhaps wisely, IBM still injected a note of caution regarding quantum computing’s near-term prospects.
Writing in a IBM research blog today, IBM’s Karl Wehden, Ismael Faro, and Jay Gambetta, said, “Quantum computing is on the verge of sparking a paradigm shift. Software reliant on this nascent technology, one rooted in the physical laws of nature, could soon revolutionize computing forever. Bear in mind, however, that it took classical computing many decades to go from individually programmed logic gates to the sophisticated cloud-based services of today—and we hope to see quantum computing take that same leap in just a few short years. We think we can get there, but we can’t take this leap alone.”
It’s a bold plan, but not without a few skeptics. That said, it embodies IBM’s belief that practical quantum computing is closer, perhaps, than many expect. Today’s roadmap, delivered with a blog and video, tackles the software side. In a chart describing the roadmap, IBM layers expected advances for software development on top of its hardware plans (see below).
IBM says these, and other improvements, “will lead to a 100x speedup in workloads that exploit iterative circuit execution, which will allow our quantum systems to run jobs in just a few hours that, today, can take months.”
The devil, of course, is in the details. The blog and video are worth perusing. Broadly, the conversation around quantum computing has spread and gained volume in recent months as government efforts (money) and the number of nascent quantum technology companies have mushroomed.
Developing a software ecosystem able to deal with diverse underlying qubit technologies while presenting a high enough abstraction layer to software developers to make their jobs easier would be a huge step forward.
As part of its announcements today, IBM also highlighted the Unitary Fund, a non-profit seeking to develop the ecosystem. IBM is a member.

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