Hybrid quantum computing as a step towards a usable quantum system

Quantum computing will not replace classical computing: The Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) shares this view with the Japanese RIKEN Supercomputing and Research Centre in Wako. RIKEN operates the "Fugaku" supercomputer and, like the LRZ, has been working for about three years on integrating quantum processors into high-performance computing (HPC) and developing workflows and software for hybrid computing. The institute is involved in international research projects and cooperates with universities and research institutes in Japan, Singapore and France, among others: Prof. Dr. Mitsuhisa Sato, head of the RIKEN Center for Computational Science (R-CCS), and Miwako Tsuji, who holds a doctorate in computer science, presented the plans, strategies and ideas of the Japanese institute at the first BQCX meeting in January 2023 and exchanged ideas with quantum enthusiasts from Bavaria and the LRZ team for Quantum Computing and Technologies.

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Similar to the LRZ, RIKEN is focusing on superconducting quantum technology for integration; the research institute is also experimenting with photonic systems. To accelerate basic research in quantum computing and make quantum technologies accessible to users, RIKEN has also integrated a Bracket simulator with up to 50 qubits and a Qulac simulator with up to 30 qubits into its supercomputer, and is planning to acquire a system that specialises in artificial intelligence (AI) applications. With this equipment, various departments and institutions at RIKEN are working on feasibility studies for quantum computing, developing algorithms or software, and optimising programming languages. Tools for error correction in the production of qubits are also on the agenda.

RIKEN is particularly focused on quantum software for materials management and molecular research. Both research disciplines are characterised by highly complex calculations for which only a few formulae exist. They are expected to benefit particularly from quantum computing. Since its foundation in 1917 as "Rikagaku Kenkyujo", a physical-chemical institute, RIKEN has specialised in natural sciences and engineering. More than the LRZ, RIKEN is therefore also involved in the theoretical foundations of quantum computing. The integration of quantum processors into supercomputers is seen as an intermediate step on the way to an independent quantum system. As a research and supercomputing centre, RIKEN is also building a platform through which scientists can access other quantum systems and annealers, such as those from D-Wave and IBM.

In addition to RIKEN, the first BQCX meeting was also attended by representatives of UK technology provider Oxford Instruments. They presented new solutions for cryostats. These devices are used to cool superconducting quantum systems down to absolute zero, -270 degrees Celsius in order to stabilise the quantum computing units know as qubits. With new cryogenic modules, Oxford Instruments is extending its existing cryostats and preparing them for quantum processing units (QPUs) with 20 or more qubits. Included in these packages: Interfaces to control and manage this new cooling technology.

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Leibniz Supercomputing Centre
of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities

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