IBM unveils roadmap to open quantum software ecosystem

February 04, 2021 // By Rich Pell
IBM unveils roadmap to open quantum software ecosystem
Multinational technology company IBM has unveiled its Quantum Development Roadmap, which showcases the company’s integrated vision and timeline for full-stack quantum development, including hardware, software, and applications.

The new development roadmap follows the company's announcement in September 2020 of its quantum technology roadmap, which offered a vision for how to get to the "inflection point" of 1,000+ qubits by 2023, and quantum systems powerful enough to explore solutions to challenges impossible on classical machines, alone. Now, says the company, the development roadmap gives professional developers more reasons and opportunity to explore quantum computing within their industry and expertise – without the need to learn new tools or languages.

First, the development roadmap integrates quantum software progress with the goal of speeding up quantum processing power, and delivering cloud-based services that any developer can use. The key features highlighted on the roadmap are Qiskit Runtime in 2021 that will enable 100x speed-up in program execution, and the capability to run dynamic circuits in 2022 that will allow greater circuit variety and expands algorithmic complexity in IBM quantum systems.

Its quantum systems, says the company, will continue to progress toward 100x speed up by the end of 2021, and examples of this progress will be released over the course of the year. For example, simulating lithium hydride (LiH) can take up to 100 days to accurately simulate; when 100x speedup is achieved, it will be possible to simulate LiH in one day.

Second, by 2023, says the company, its quantum systems will be powerful enough to explore major problems with a clear advantage over classical machines. And, thanks to the IBM Cloud, they will be accessible enough that any developer could explore quantum computing to solve a problem will be able to tap IBM's quantum systems.

Developers exploring quantum computing today will be able to do more, faster, says the company, as it implements technologies designed on the OpenShift hybrid cloud platform to work alongside quantum computers. And more developers from different industries will have more reason and opportunity to explore quantum computing within their workflows – no need to learn new tools or languages.

Finally, IBM Quantum envisions a future of quantum computing that doesn't require learning a new programming language and running code separately on a new device, but instead, is integrated into a typical computing workflow just like a graphics card or any other external computing component. The company says that it envisions a quantum workflow such that different types of developers can work seamlessly in the same integrated cloud-based framework.

"We call this vision frictionless quantum computing," says the company in its announcement of the development roadmap, "and our team is excited to announce the Development Roadmap toward this future – where software and hardware advancements in tandem will extend the variety of circuits and expand the capacity of our systems to run circuits at a faster rate."

For more, see "IBM's roadmap for building an open quantum software ecosystem."

IBM Research

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