IBM quantum flexi cables.

IBM unveiled its most powerful quantum computer to date at the IBM Summit 2022 on Wednesday. Named “Osprey,” the 433-qubit processor has the largest qubit count of any IBM processor and is triple the size of the company’s previously record-breaking 127-qubit Eagle processor.

“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.

According to the release, the Osprey processor can run complex quantum computations way beyond the computational capability of any other classical computer. “For reference, the number of classical bits that would be necessary to represent a state on the IBM Osprey processor far exceeds the total number of atoms in the known universe,” the statement said.

The company highlighted that it was on track to deliver Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, in 2023.

Dario Gil, Jay Gambetta and Jerry Chow holding the new 433 qubit ‘IBM Osprey’ processor.

Osprey contains a multi-wiring system and a new gen of control electronics

The company developed its first quantum computer on the cloud in 2016. The device had five quantum bits – all of which were superconducting circuits. It debuted the 27-qubit Falcon in 2019, the 65-qubit Hummingbird in 2020, and the 127-qubit Eagle in 2021.

IEEE Spectrum reported that both Eagle and Osprey have separated wires and other components required for readout and control. According to the publication, this multi-level wiring helps the processor to incorporate fragile qubits from disruption.

“We probably didn’t need all that technology to deploy a 100-qubit device but doing all that helped set up Osprey and Condor,” Oliver Dial, IBM Quantum’s chief hardware architect, told IEEE Spectrum. “We now have the technology in hand to go way beyond 100 qubits.”

Dial mentioned two major advantages Osprey possessed over Eagle outside the chip: One is replacing the quantum chandelier of microwave cables IBM used with its previous quantum processors with flexible ribbon cables, and the other is a new generation of the control electronics that send and receive microwave signals to and from the quantum processor.

The aforementioned flexible ribbon cables are adapted to cryogenic environments – their characteristics led to a 77 percent increase in the number of connections leading to the chip. “Basically, almost twice as many wires which will help IBM scale up its quantum computers,” said Dial.

IBM’s quantum processors over the years.

Reducing the cost is necessary to scale up

The new processor’s control electronics include a cryo-CMOS controller chip that was implemented using a 14-nanometer FinFET technology that runs at roughly 4 Kelvin (-269.15 degrees C).

It employs an application-specific integrated circuit design that is less bulky and power-hungry than previous field-programmable gate array approaches. “Instead of about 100 watts per qubit like we needed before, we only need about ten milliwatts, so we can fit far more qubits onto a chip,” Dial said, as it uses an application-specific integrated circuit design that is less bulky than previous approaches.

All these improvements “have reduced costs, which is an important consideration as we scale up. “With our first generation of five and 20 qubit devices, we needed an entire rack of control electronics, and with Eagle, we saw 40 qubits per rack. Now we can control more than 400 qubits with one rack of equipment,” said Dial.

“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,” added Gil.

Reference : Interesting Engineering

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