Qiskit Metal is an open-source platform that automates parts of the design process for quantum chips. Building the hardware that underpins quantum computers might not sound like everybody's cup of tea, but IBM is determined to make the idea sound less challenging. The company has announced the general availability of Qiskit Metal, an open-source platform that automates parts of the design process for quantum chips, and which IBM promised will now let "anyone" design quantum hardware. Big Blue detailed the progress made with Metal since the tool was first announced late last year as part of the company's larger Qiskit portfolio, which provides open-source tools for creating programs that can run on IBM's cloud-based quantum devices. While most of Qiskit's resources focus on building applications that can be executed on quantum machines, Metal targets a brand-new audience, providing software to help design the components that make up the hardware itself.
Working with real quantum computers just got easier for experts in chemistry, artificial intelligence, and optimization. Building on QISKit, our open source quantum information science kit for software development, we've released ACQUA -- Algorithms and Circuits for Quantum Applications. This new open source software allows classical computer applications to send complex operations to be run on quantum computers, over the cloud. Let me start by explaining the quantum software stack, and where QISKit and ACQUA fit. At the lowest level is the hardware where the qubits sit at the very cold temperature of 15 mK.
There are many simulation and optimization problems that are difficult or impossible to solve using your existing computing resources. You do not have a quantum computer, which may be able to solve them, and you do not expect your company to get one soon. You are not alone, but don't worry IBM will let you use their quantum computing resources to make a start in formulating their solutions. For years, quantum computing was little more than an idea that fascinated computer scientists. Now it is offering direct utility for researchers and engineers even before the promise of a large-scale universal quantum computer is fulfilled.
Using a combination of tweaked algorithms, improved control systems and a new quantum service called Qiskit Runtime, IBM researchers have managed to resolve a quantum problem 120 times faster than the previous time they gave it a go. Back in 2017, Big Blue announced that, equipped with a seven-qubit quantum processor, its researchers had successfully simulated the behavior of a small molecule called lithium hydride (LiH). At the time, the operation took 45 days. Now, four years later, the IBM Quantum team has announced that the same problem was solved in only nine hours. The simulation was run entirely on the cloud, through IBM's Qiskit platform – an open-source library of tools that lets developers around the world create quantum programs and run them on prototype quantum devices that IBM makes available over the cloud.
Widespread use of quantum computing is still a ways away, but 2020 saw a number of milestones from numerous quantum industry leaders, including IBM, Amazon, and Google. Multiple companies and institutions have made claims of quantum advantage or quantum supremacy, the points at which a quantum computer can compute hundreds or thousands of times faster than a classical computer or are powerful enough to complete calculations that classical supercomputers can't perform at all. But multiple experts said 2021 will see more companies look for specific use cases that can be leveraged sometime in the next decade, as quantum computers improve and the number of qubits available continues to grow. Bob Sutor, vice president of IBM Quantum Strategy and Ecosystem, said the company made a 65-qubit quantum computing system available on the cloud in September and released its quantum hardware roadmap, calling for a 127-qubit system in 2021, a 433-qubit system in 2022, and a 1,121-qubit system in 2023. SEE: Quantum computing: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic Premium) Six experts spoke to TechRepublic about what they're looking forward to in 2021 when it comes to potential advancement in quantum computing technology.