IBM have unveiled a massive 433-qubit “Osprey” quantum processor, bringing us ever-closer to that ultimate goal of practical quantum computing. Pushing for a 4,000-Qubit processor by 2025, the company appears to be on track in scaling up its quantum chips to heights never before seen in quantum computing and they could soon be ready to tackle tasks impossible for conventional computers.
"The new 433-qubit 'Osprey' processor brings us a step closer to the point where quantum computers will be used to tackle previously unsolvable problems," said Dr Darío Gil, Senior Vice President of IBM and Director of Research, in a statement.
"We are continuously scaling up and advancing our quantum technology across hardware, software and classical integration to meet the biggest challenges of our time, in conjunction with our partners and clients worldwide. This work will prove foundational for the coming era of quantum-centric supercomputing."
The basis of a quantum processor is the qubit – a basic unit of quantum information that can assume more states than a traditional computer. The simplest way of explaining it is by imagining an 8-bit computer versus an 8-qubit computer: in the conventional system, where each bit can either be 0 or 1, you could have 00000000-11111111 and any combination in between. In an 8-qubit system, you could theoretically have 00000000-99999999. As such, each qubit added to a processor represents a profound leap in capability and potential processing power.
However, functional qubits are tough to pack into a small computer chip, and many need to be allocated to error-checking as quantum computers are prone to making errors at a higher rate than current computers. As such, scaling quantum chips up to higher and higher functional qubit numbers is essential to making them viable. IBM released a 127-qubit processor last year, and they show no signs of slowing down.
Now, IBM intends on making a 1,000-qubit processor in 2023, which will take the crown from Osprey as the largest quantum processor in the world.
"The IBM Quantum Summit 2022 marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of the global quantum computing sector, as we advance along our quantum roadmap. As we continue to increase the scale of quantum systems and make them simpler to use, we will continue to see adoption and growth of the quantum industry," said Jay Gambetta, IBM Fellow and Vice President of IBM Quantum, in a statement.
"Our breakthroughs define the next wave in quantum, which we call quantum-centric supercomputing, where modularity, communication, and middleware will contribute to enhanced scaling computation capacity, and integration of quantum and classical workflows."