Technology giant IBM has reached a major milestone in its quantum ambitions and has unveiled a new chip and machine that it hopes can help solve problems beyond the scope of traditional computers.
The unveiling at an IBM event in New York on Monday comes as companies and countries race to develop quantum machines, which can carry out large numbers of calculations simultaneously and at incredible speeds.
The new chip has more than 1,000 qubits, which is the equivalent of the digital bits in an ordinary computer.
One of the main issues in developing the machines is they often struggle with data errors. However, IBM said it has a new method to connect chips inside machines which can then connect machines and with a new error-code connection could produce even more capable quantum machines in 10 years.
The first machine to use them is called Quantum System Two, which uses three so-called "Heron" chips.
"We are firmly within the era in which quantum computers are being used as a tool to explore new frontiers of science," said Dario Gil, IBM’s senior vice president and director of research.
"As we continue to advance how quantum systems can scale and deliver value through modular architectures, we will further increase the quality of a utility-scale quantum technology stack – and put it into the hands of our users and partners who will push the boundaries of more complex problems".
IBM did not predict when it could go commercial with quantum machines.
At the annual IBM Quantum Summit, the company also unveiled 10 projects that showed off the potential power of quantum computing, such as for drug discovery.
The scale-up Algorithmiq, which is developing quantum algorithms to solve problems in life sciences, was one of them and successfully ran one of the largest scale error mitigation experiments to date on IBM’s hardware. It said the achievement positions them alongside IBM as front runners to reach quantum utility, referring to quantum computer's ability to perform reliable computations beyond the capabilities of regular computing methods, for real-world use cases.
“Today represents further validation that Algorithmiq’s core error mitigation techniques are powerful and will enable large-scale experiments on specific use cases leading us well into the quantum utility era for real commercial applications,” said Sabrina Maniscalco, co-founder and CEO of Algorithmiq.
“I’ve dedicated over 20 years of my life to the study of noisy quantum systems, as a professor, and I never thought this type of experiment would be possible so soon,” she said in comments to Euronews Next.
Quantum and AI
Additionally, IBM is pioneering the use of generative AI for quantum code programming IBM's enterprise AI platform watsonx.
"Generative AI and quantum computing are both reaching an inflection point, presenting us with the opportunity to use the trusted foundation model framework of watsonx to simplify how quantum algorithms can be built for utility-scale exploration," said Jay Gambetta, Vice President and IBM Fellow at IBM.
"This is a significant step towards broadening how quantum computing can be accessed and put in the hands of users as an instrument for scientific exploration".