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USRA-Rigetti-NASA team advances to DARPA ONISQ Phase 2

By IQT News posted 28 Jan 2022

(Universities Space Research Association) Rigetti Computing, a leader in hybrid quantum-classical computing systems, announced today it has been selected to deliver hardware, software and benchmarks for phase two of a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) program to develop quantum computers capable of solving complex optimization problems. In collaboration with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), and through DARPA, under DARPA-NASA Interagency agreement (IAA) 8839 Annex 114, with the NASA Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL), the company’s selection is based on its successful completion of performance milestones, underpinned by Rigetti’s continued development of its scalable chip technology and advanced programming tools.
“Working with our partners at NASA and USRA to deliver on ONISQ (Optimization with Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum) phase one has advanced our capabilities in hardware, software, and applications, demonstrating the benefits of both our partnering strategy and our vertically integrated approach to developing quantum computers,” said Rigetti founder and CEO Chad Rigetti. “Using an operationally relevant customer problem as a guidepost has led to significant full-stack innovation, including in chip technologies, advanced gate calibration, and quantum programming features that we’re now able to deliver more broadly to users through our Quantum Cloud Services platform.”
The work focuses on solving a class of complex scheduling problems, which have important implications for national security, such as real-time strategic asset deployment, as well as commercial applications including global supply chain management, network optimization, and vehicle routing. The goal of the collaboration is to deliver a full-stack solution with a proven quantum advantage over classical techniques.
Leveraging Rigetti’s Fab-1, the industry’s first dedicated and integrated quantum device manufacturing facility, the program was supported by the ongoing development of key chip technologies underpinning the company’s innovative modular quantum processor architecture, which it announced last year.
In addition, work under the program has led to the demonstration of advanced programming tools and compiler technology, including more expressive logic gates on Rigetti’s 32-qubit quantum processors. Among them is the industry’s first implementation of a programmable 3-qubit gate, which maps directly to classically hard sampling problems and may enable quantum computers to outperform classical computers on these tasks.
In the second phase of the program, the team will continue to develop and test the scheduling application at increasing scale, including with Rigetti’s 80-qubit modular quantum processor that the company announced in December 2021. The NASA and USRA collaborators will perform application benchmarking against high-performance classical computers to determine whether the approach has a provable quantum advantage compared to known techniques.

This work is part of the DARPA ONISQ program. The goal of the program is to establish that quantum information processing using NISQ devices has a quantitative advantage for solving real-world combinatorial optimization problems as compared with the best currently known classical methods.

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