IBM achieves quantum computing milestone, establishes roadmap

March 11, 2019 //By Rich Pell
IBM achieves quantum computing milestone, establishes roadmap
IBM (Armonk, NY) has announced that it has achieved the highest quantum volume - a measure of quantum computer power - to date.

The company's recently unveiled IBM Q System One quantum computer, with a fourth-generation 20-qubit processor, has produced a quantum volume of 16 - roughly double that of the current IBM Q 20-qubit IBM Q Network devices, which have a quantum volume of 8. The higher the quantum volume, says the company, the more real-world, complex problems quantum computers can potentially solve - such as simulating chemistry, modeling financial risk, and supply chain optimization.

Quantum volume, a procedure developed by IBM, determines how powerful a quantum computer is. A variety of factors determine quantum volume, including the number of qubits, connectivity, and coherence time, plus accounting for gate and measurement errors, device cross talk, and circuit software compiler efficiency.

In addition to producing the highest quantum volume to date, says the company, IBM Q System One's performance reflects some of the lowest error rates the company has ever measured, with an average 2-qubit gate error less than 2%, and its best gate achieving less than 1& error rate. To build a fully-functional, large-scale, universal, fault-tolerant quantum computer, long coherence times and low error rates are required.

Quantum volume, says the company, is a fundamental performance metric that measures progress in the pursuit of quantum advantage, the point at which quantum applications deliver a significant, practical benefit beyond what classical computers alone are capable. Potential use cases, such as precisely simulating battery-cell chemistry for electric vehicles, delivering a quadratic speedup in derivative pricing, and many others are already being investigated by IBM Q Network partners.

To achieve quantum advantage in the 2020s, says the company, it will need to continue to at least double quantum volume every year.

"Today, we are proposing a roadmap for quantum computing, as our IBM Q team is committed to reaching a point where quantum computation will provide a real impact on science and business," says Dr. Sarah Sheldon, lead of the IBM Q Quantum Performance team,


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