Garching – Bavaria is shaping the future of computing: The Leibniz Super-computing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities will become a European centre for a top-class quantum computer and integrates it into a classical supercomputer. This was decided by the Governing Board of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) at its meeting in Luxembourg on 3 and 4 Octobre, 2022. As one of the three national supercomputing centres of the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS), the LRZ had applied for the European tender and convinced the funding bodies. The idea behind the "European Quantum Computing for Exascale-HPC" project, or Euro-Q-Exa for short, is to inte-grate quantum processors into supercomputing and thus make the new computer technology easier to control and to use for scientists.
A wide range of application scenarios from various research disciplines as well as from industry and society will be researched in Bavaria with the help of Europe's quantum computer. The project is funded by the EuroHPC JU, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Hightech Agenda of the Free State of Bavaria.
Using partnerships and synergies to build the system
Quantum computing as a technology is currently moving from the experi-mental stage to becoming available to a broader range of applications. Data centres around the world, including the LRZ, are already testing the first quantum processors and making them available to their users. However, operating systems, development environments, software and tools for con-trolling quantum processing units (QPUs) and for optimising and controlling their computing performance are still lacking for widespread use. To build the quantum computer, the EU called for a hybrid system in which quantum pro-cessors are integrated with a supercomputer, thus making the system faster and at the same time making it possible to control them from the supercom-puter. The LRZ can already build on practical experience as well as on re-sults and synergies that its Quantum Integration Centre (QIC) is developing with partners from industry and academia in various research projects.
In an innovation partnership with hardware providers, Bavaria's leading aca-demic computing centre is also currently researching and developing the technology for an innovative supercomputer capable of more than a quintillion computing operations per second (exascale: 1018; a trillion by European numbering standards). This system is supposed to feature quantum processors as well.
Step by step: Building the European quantum computer
The Euro-Q-Exa system will be realised in two steps. As early as 2023, the LRZ will make the quantum demonstrator Q-Exa, financed by the BMBF, available to European users. A 100-qubit system will then be added in further steps by 2026 via a classic public tender procedure.
However, it is still uncertain as to which science sectors will benefit the most from the new quantum computer. Among the fields that hope to benefit, users from materials sciences, (molecular) chemistry and biology, and IT/security measures are among the best positioned to benefit from the technology at the beginning—in other words, research disciplines with previously unsolva-ble questions.