IBM unveils 127-qubit quantum processor

November 16, 2021 // By Rich Pell
IBM unveils 127-qubit quantum processor
Tech giant IBM has announced a 127-quantum bit (qubit) processor that is claimed to represent a "breakthrough" in tapping into the massive computing potential of devices based on quantum physics.

The new 'Eagle' quantum processor, says the company, heralds the point in hardware development where quantum circuits cannot be reliably simulated exactly on a classical computer. It represents the latest step along the company's previously announced roadmaps for quantum computing, including a path for scaling quantum hardware to enable complex quantum circuits to reach Quantum Advantage - the point at which quantum systems can meaningfully outperform their classical counterpoints.

The company measures progress in quantum computing hardware through three performance attributes:

  • Scale is measured in the number of qubits on a quantum processor and determines how large of a quantum circuit can be run.
  • Quality is measured by Quantum Volume and describes how accurately quantum circuits run on a real quantum device.
  • Speed is measured by CLOPS (Circuit Layer Operations Per Second), a metric IBM introduced in November 2021, and captures the feasibility of running real calculations composed of a large number of quantum circuits.

'Eagle' is the company's first quantum processor developed and deployed to contain more than 100 operational and connected qubits. It follows IBM's 65-qubit 'Hummingbird' processor unveiled in 2020 and the 27-qubit 'Falcon' processor unveiled in 2019.

To achieve this breakthrough, says the company, its researchers built on innovations pioneered within its existing quantum processors, such as a qubit arrangement design to reduce errors and an architecture to reduce the number of necessary components. The new techniques leveraged within Eagle place control wiring on multiple physical levels within the processor while keeping the qubits on a single layer, which enables a significant increase in qubits.

The increased qubit count will allow users to explore problems at a new level of complexity when undertaking experiments and running applications, such as optimizing machine learning or modeling new molecules and materials for use in areas spanning from the energy industry to the drug discovery process. 'Eagle' is the first IBM quantum processor whose scale makes it impossible for a

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