IBM promises a quantum computer with more than 4,000 qubits: What do you expect?

Two years after unveiling its quantum roadmap, IBM is continuing to keep pace with its goals. The company on Tuesday revealed new plans to deliver a quantum computer with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025. These advances will take quantum computing beyond the experimental stage by 2025, according to Arvind Krishna, CEO of IBM.

For some simple use cases, companies should be able to deploy quantum computers “between 2023 and 2025,” the CEO says ahead of the annual IBM Think conference in Boston. That means, he explains, that electric vehicle manufacturers will be able to use quantum computers to analyze materials like lithium hydride to develop better batteries, or they can analyze the potential for lighter, but more powerful vehicles. In the meantime, other companies can use quantum computers for simple optimization cases, such as search engine optimization.

“When we start hitting 4,000 qubits, a lot of these problems are within the reach of quantum computers,” says Arvind Krishna.

Leveraging Quantum to Solve Complex Problems

In the meantime, the CEO expects that more complex problems related to quantum computing could be resolved in a few years. He adds that drug companies, for example, could reap benefits by 2025 or 2030.

“If you’re thinking about pharmaceuticals…it’s likely to come a little later,” he says, adding that IBM is in “deep discussions with a few of these biotech companies.”

“Covid vaccines have taught many of them that informatics applied in medicine can get things done faster,” he continues. “They all woke up to what computing can do. You can imagine some of them thinking a little bit to say, ‘What can we do with quantum?'”

After the eagle, osprey

In 2020, IBM announced that it will ship a 1,121K device in 2023, along with components and cooling systems. The company has also released images of a 2-meter-wide, 3-meter-long cooling system being built to house an 1121-kilobit processor called the IBM Quantum Condor. According to IBM, the goal is to build a quantum system with one million qubits. The company sees the 1,000-qubit mark as a turning point in overcoming obstacles to the commercialization of quantum systems.

While building Condor, last year IBM announced the Eagle processor, a 127 kbit processor. Later this year, IBM plans to unveil its 433-kilobit Osprey processor.

“Up to 4000 [qubits]“There are a lot of problems that we have to solve,” says Arvind Krishna. “How do you start scaling these systems? How do you communicate with each other, how do you get the software to scale and run from the cloud in those computers? Those are all issues that we think we have a field of vision for… so we are very confident with our 2025 timeline” .

Qiskit Runtime in development

In addition to working on physical quantum computers, in 2023 IBM will continue to improve the development of the Qiskit Runtime, an open source program that allows users to interact with quantum computers. It will also implement cloud-based workflows for a serverless approach in IBM’s core quantum software package.

Arvind Krishna adds that IBM will likely be “open to all approaches” to offering quantum computing, including selling it as a machine, offering it as a managed service to customers, or offering it as a local service.


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