At the IBM Quantum Summit 2022, IBM unveiled its new quantum processor. Called the IBM Osprey, it features 433 qubits, more than triple the IBM Eagle processor unveiled just last year. This great step forward in the field of quantum computers aims to make computers capable of performing complex calculations that are far beyond the capabilities of any classical computer. Software is as critical as hardware to performance, and IBM is working on the Qiskit Runtime, a service and programming model that aims to optimize workloads and run them efficiently on quantum computers.
For years, several companies have been developing quantum computers amid architectural controversies and doubts about their real performance. A giant like IBM could not stay out of a field considered the future of computer science. Already in recent years, it presented quantum processors with an increasing number of qubits but the announcement of IBM Osprey with its 433 qubits could represent a leap forward.
IBM has started talking about what it called “quantum-centric supercomputing”, therefore of systems of the highest level in the field of quantum computers. The company intends to explore the field of quantum supercomputers starting in 2023 at a brisk pace with new advances.
If IBM Osprey looks like the state of the art in quantum computers, it should be kept in mind that IBM Condor with 1,121 qubits is scheduled to be available in 2023 to continue multiplying qubits. At the same time, IBM Heron is scheduled to be launched, which may seem limited with its 133 qubits but is based on a new architecture that aims to dramatically increase performance. Mainframes are an important part of the company’s business, and the IBM Quantum System Two systems announced for late 2023 are basically quantum mainframes designed to be modular and flexible.
The development of quantum hardware is what makes the news but software is crucial for it to work and for performance. IBM began releasing the Qiskit Runtime with the IBM Eagle processor and kept on developing it. When it comes to quantum computers, noise and error handling makes a huge difference and IBM’s kit is also developed to offer various possibilities. Greater accuracy comes at the expense of speed and vice versa, and each developer can choose how to manage these possibilities.
It’s hardly a surprise that IBM wants to be at the forefront of quantum computing. It’s a field still in a pioneering phase that is growing rapidly but still leaves doubts about the systems’ real performances due to the difficulties in comparing them with those of traditional systems. It will probably take some more hardware and software developments to get a clearer idea and in the meantime, there will certainly be more news!