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Quantum Computing (QCI) today announced the availability of an application accelerator dubbed Qatalyst that promises to make it easier to deploy applications on different quantum computing platforms.
Qatalyst currently supports quantum systems from Rigetti, D-Wave Systems, and IonQ, with plans to support additional systems based on other quantum processor units (QPUs). It presents software developers with application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable them to build quantum applications at a higher level of abstraction than is possible with the low-level tools provided by the builders of each quantum computing system, QCI VP Steve Reinhardt said.
Those APIs are also surfaced in a way that is simpler for developers to incorporate into the workflows subject matter experts can consume, Reinhardt added. That approach will make quantum computing more accessible to end users working on complex mathematical problems, he added.
While it’s still early days as far as the adoption of quantum computing is concerned, Reinhardt said organizations will not want to be locked into a specific hardware platform when it’s not clear which hardware platforms will stand the test of time. “It’s uncertain which hardware is going to be the most successful,” Reinhardt said.
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Qatalyst also makes it possible for developers to compare results across different quantum computing systems that will generally be invoked via a cloud service, Reinhardt added. Qatalyst also constantly optimizes usage of quantum computers to enable organizations to better control costs, he noted.
In addition to Righetti, D-Wave, and IonQ, the list of organizations building quantum computing platforms includes Alphabet, IBM, Honeywell, Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba, Nokia, Intel, Airbus, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), Toshiba, Mitsubishi, SK Telecom, NEC, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Biogen, Volkswagen, Silicon Quantum Computing, Huawei, Amgen, and Zapata.
The Chinese government is also known to be funding quantum computing research, as is the U.S. via agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Los Alamos National Laboratory. In most cases, there is a fair amount of collaboration between many of these entities. For example, Alphabet subsidiary Google has created Quantum AI Laboratory in collaboration with NASA using quantum computers provided by D-Wave.
Eventually, quantum systems will become yet another platform organizations can invoke as a cloud resource. However, the number of quantum systems that might be made available via the cloud is likely to be extremely limited for many years to come, which means employing quantum systems will be costly. And there is currently no standard set of APIs for invoking these systems, a void QCI is hoping to fill as it continues to develop Qatalyst.
Quantum computers running experimental applications today are based on quantum circuits that make a qubit available as the atomic unit of computing. Traditional computing systems are based on bits that can be set at 0 or 1. A qubit can be set for 0 and 1 at the same time, which will theoretically increase raw compute horsepower to the point where more complex chemistry problems could be solved to advance climate change research or break encryption schemes that are widely employed to ensure cybersecurity. Quantum computers are also expected to advance AI by making it possible to train more complex models much faster than is possible using conventional systems today.
But quantum computing platforms are unlikely to be considered stable enough to employ broadly before 2023. In the meantime, as the number of developers building quantum applications steadily increases, concerns about becoming locked into a specific hardware platform will continue.
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