IBM Ushers in Next Wave of Computing with 433-qubit Quantum Processor

November 17, 2022 by Darshil Patel

With triple the qubits of IBM's last quantum processor, Osprey is charging the company's quantum roadmap ahead.

IBM is beginning to realize the next generation of quantum computing. At this year's IBM Quantum Summit, the company shared more than ten announcements about its new quantum computing hardware and software and how it will help create a quantum computing ecosystem. IBM also announced the making of its quantum-centric supercomputer, a scalable and modular computing architecture that combines quantum communication and hybrid cloud middleware to integrate quantum and classical workflows.


IBM Quantum's development roadmap

IBM Quantum's development roadmap. Image used courtesy of IBM [Click to enlarge]


The company is expanding its IBM Quantum network with innovation centers at Arizona State University, DESY, IIT Madras, and uptownBasel; and industry partners Bosch, Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale, Erste Digital, Tokyo Electron, HSBC, and Vodafone.


The 400-qubit Quantum Processor and IBM Quantum Two

One of IBM's top announcements was its 433-qubit quantum processor, Osprey. It has the largest qubit count of any IBM quantum processor—more than triple the qubits of the IBM Eagle processor unveiled in 2021

Osprey includes multi-level wiring for flexible signal routing and device layout and an integrated filter to reduce noise and improve stability. The processor can run complex computations beyond the capabilities of any classical computer, according to IBM.

A quantum processor like Osprey uses qubits, which can attain a state of quantum superposition between two states. An atomic nucleus can act as a qubit because the direction of its "magnetic moment" or spin can point in a different direction than the magnetic field. Therefore, the number of bits necessary to represent a state on such processors can be infinite. 


Osprey quantum processor

Osprey quantum processor. Image used courtesy of IBM

Such high-performance quantum computers are susceptible to noise from various electromagnetic fields in the environment. This noise arises from intermediate states of qubits. To mitigate such errors, IBM released an update to Qiskit Runtime, allowing users to trade speed for reduced error count with a simple API option.

By 2025, IBM plans to scale its quantum system to 4,000+ qubits with Quantum System Two. This modular system combines multiple processors with communication links. Quantum System Two will be a building block of quantum-centric supercomputing and is targeted to be online by the end of 2023.


Emerging Technologies Unveiled at the Quantum Summit

At the heart of IBM's quantum-centric supercomputer is hybrid cloud middleware that maximizes the performance of quantum applications running on parallel, cloud-based, quantum, and classical computational systems. The middleware employs a circuit knitting technique in which classical computation takes some tasks of a quantum circuit to increase the hardware’s capabilities. Another tool, called Quantum Serverless, is a programming model that allows developers to focus on code rather than resource management. 

IBM will announce the release of the Circuit Knitting Toolbox and Quantum Serverless this year and a full release in 2025.


Illustration of the Quantum Serverless concept

Illustration of the Quantum Serverless concept. Image used courtesy of IBM


IBM also plans to release the 133-qubit Heron processor next year, leveraging its new tunable coupler architecture. Heron will combine classical communication to speed up computation, thanks to Circuit Knitting and Quantum Serverless. With Heron, IBM aims to offer a tool capable of calculating unbiased circuit observables with 100 qubits and 100 depth-of-gate operations.


One Step Closer to Quantum Supremacy

To meet the demand for new computing technologies, developers like IBM are designing a new generation of quantum technologies to improve computing power efficiency. While advancements in computation also bring new challenges associated with implementation, security, and encryption, IBM's combined hardware and software approach may bring the company closer to "quantum supremacy."