UPDATED 19:53 EDT / MAY 21 2023


IBM announces new 10-year, $100M quantum-centric supercomputer initiative

International Business Machines Corp. today announced a new 10-year, $100 million initiative with the University of Tokyo and the University of Chicago to develop a quantum-centric supercomputer powered by 100,000 qubits.

A “qubit,” or quantum bit, is the fundamental unit of quantum information and is distinguished by its ability to exist in multiple states at once, thanks to a quantum phenomenon called superposition. The feature makes quantum computing stand out, as it enables the simultaneous processing of an enormous amount of possibilities, offering potential breakthroughs in solving complex problems that are currently beyond the reach of classical binary computers.

IBM made the announcement at the G7 Summit in Japan. The project is being pitched as offering new understandings of chemical reactions and molecular processes, aiding research in areas such as climate change, the development of materials for electric vehicle batteries and sustainable energy grids and the discovery of more effective and energy-efficient fertilizers.

The initiative has three stages, starting with IBM’s plan to launch a new 133-qubit “Heron” processor by the end of 2023. The new processor is said to be a complete redesign of IBM’s previous generations of quantum processors and includes a new two-qubit gate for higher performance and compatibility with future extensions to enable modular connected processors to grow the size of the computer.

The second step will be the introduction of IBM Quantum System Two. Quantum System Two is a modular and flexible system designed for scalability, including classical control electronics and high-density cryogenic wiring infrastructure.

The third stage is the introduction of middleware for quantum, a set of tools to run workloads on both classical and quantum processors. The new tools include the ability to decompose, parallel execution and reconstruct workloads to enable efficient solutions at scale​.

“Over the past several years, IBM has been at the forefront of introducing quantum technology to the world,” Arvind Krishna, chairman and chief executive officer of IBM, said in a statement. “We have achieved significant progress along our roadmap and mission to globally establish useful quantum technology, so much so that we can now, with our partners, truly begin to explore and develop a new class of supercomputing anchored by quantum.”

The initiative is claimed to represent a significant step towards realizing quantum-centric supercomputing, which requires global collaboration and activation of talent and resources across industries and research institutions.

Image: IBM

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