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Quick Quantum Quips: Quantum algorithms and infrastructure reach milestones

Welcome to TBR’s monthly newsletter on the quantum computing market: Quick Quantum Quips (Q3). This market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the actual technological developments. This newsletter will keep the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

For more details, reach out to Stephanie Long or Geoff Woollacott to set up a time to chat.

August 2020 Developments

Like IBM did with its Selectric typewriters in the 1960s, the company is successfully weaving its quantum computing thread through myriad aspects of the greater quantum ecosystem, underpinned by strategic sponsorships and the inclusion of partners in the IBM Quantum Experience. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is pushing back on this approach by offering a vendor-agnostic view of quantum cloud computing. Academia has also thrown its hat into the ring with ongoing innovation and advancements in quantum computing. The competitive landscape of quantum computing has begun to take on the look and feel of the early classical computing world; however, the modern industry has addressed the mistakes made with classical computing, and therefore progress can be more formulaic and swift. August 2020 developments are starting to tie pieces of investments together to show a glimpse of when the post-quantum world may come, and as advancements continue the future state appears closer on the horizon than previously thought.

  1. AWS swiftly increased its presence in the quantum computing space by making its quantum computing cloud service, Braket, generally available. Underpinned by hardware from IonQ, D-Wave and Rigetti, Braket has been in testing mode for about eight months, during which time academic institutions and hand-picked customers, including Fidelity, were able to access and test the system. AWS intentionally selected the hardware vendors it partnered with because they all are underpinned by different quantum technology. AWS Braket comes to market to take on IBM and Microsoft, both of which have invested in quantum cloud services. However, a key difference is that IBM and Microsoft are also investing in their own quantum computing hardware while AWS has no current plans to do so.
  2. IBM continues to reach its targeted quantum computing goals, including successfully doubling last year’s quantum volume attainment of 32 to 64 in August. A 27-qubit system achieved this quantum volume milestone, and a mixture of hardware enhancements and software were drivers behind its success. While on its own this is not a particularly notable achievement in terms of commercial applicability, IBM’s ability to double quantum volume annually makes it clear that commercial applications are just around the corner in the quantum space, especially if the applications are leveraged in conjunction with high-performance computing. In total, IBM now has 28 quantum computers available through the IBM Quantum Experience.
  3. MIT led a weeklong summer camp for high school students on quantum computing called Qubit by Qubit. This is significant in the quantum computing realm because the pool of qualified personnel in quantum computing is so limited and the technology is still such a long game that many high school students are unaware of the career opportunities in the space. However, the quantum space needs to develop a pipeline of students who eventually major in a quantum-related field for the technology to succeed long-term. It cannot scale commercially with just a few thousand qualified personnel in the world to work with it. While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on many aspects of everyday life, access to information has never been easier as experts are offering lectures and other activities online, providing eager learners with far more opportunities to gain knowledge. The summer camp was paired with a yearlong course if students chose to pursue it, and both programs were created in partnership with The Coding School. The summer camp was an online program that included live instruction sessions. TBR believes the summer camp focused on superconducting quantum computing because Amir Karamlou is focused on the topic as an MIT alumnus and graduate research fellow and because camp sponsor IBM conducts its own research on superconducting quantum computing. IBM was one of the technology sponsors of the program.
  4. The University of Sydney is working on developing an algorithm that can predict the noise impacting qubits in a given environment. While the project is still in the developmental phase, the researchers were able to map the noise of qubits in an experiment and believe the technology will be scalable and will enable users of quantum systems to leverage their algorithms to adapt a system to overcome the impacts of the noise. The test was done on a 14-qubit IBM system accessed through the IBM Quantum Experience.
  5. Rigetti raised $79 million in a round of Series C funding in August. The round of funding was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, which added members of its team to Rigetti’s board of directors as a result. TBR notes that Rigetti faces an uphill battle as hardware innovation is the most expensive aspect of quantum innovation and the majority of its quantum hardware competitors are major, better capitalized corporations with a division devoted to quantum hardware. Rigetti continues to raise funds through funding rounds, which increases the risk that investors will become anxious to see ROI and forgo further investment or seek faster repayment.

If you would like more detailed information around the quantum computing market, please inquire about TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, a semiannual deep dive into the quantum computing market. Our most recent version, which focused on services, was released in June. Look for our next iteration in December, focused on middleware.

Quick Quantum Quips: Vendors lay the groundwork for regional and technological differentiation as commercialization of quantum computers looms

Welcome to TBR’s monthly newsletter on the quantum computing market: Quick Quantum Quips (Q3). This market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the actual technological developments. This newsletter will keep the community up to date on recent announcements, while stripping away the hype around developments.

For more details, reach out to Stephanie Long or Geoff Woollacott to set up a time to chat.

June 2020 Developments

Various developments and investments in quantum computing highlight the vastness of the opportunities that exist in this field for vendors willing to endure the long haul between research and development and commercialization. While major players continue to make strides, quantum computing startups still stand strong in the market, receiving additional funding and forming strategic partnerships to push forward with their individual goals. Globally, skills shortages remain a challenge and a threat to rapid commercialization once the technology is available. As such, courses at the high school level are being developed so students are familiar enough with the technology to know if they would be interested in pursuing a related degree at the higher-education level. This is essential as in some ways, introducing students to the quantum field after they have entered college may be too late as many of these students may have already decided on their specialization.

  1. D-Wave and NEC partnered on quantum computing sales and marketing opportunities in addition to product development to bolster the prevalence of the technology globally. This partnership in particular increases D-Wave’s presence in Japan and provides NEC with assets to compete against Fujitsu in their respective local markets. The product development portion of the partnership combines NEC’s supercomputing technologies with D-Wave’s quantum expertise to bring hybrid compute solutions to market. Early activity in the quantum space suggests a hybrid compute model is the most likely way early quantum computers will be leveraged commercially.
  2. Honeywell claims to have the world’s highest-performing quantum computer as of June, leveraging IBM’s measuring tool for quantum computing, called Quantum Volume, to back up its claim. The system has a quantum volume of 64, and marks the delivery of promises Honeywell made regarding quantum computing performance in March. TBR notes that a key customer example Honeywell leveraged in the March announcement was JPMorgan Chase, which is also a strategic quantum customer for IBM and highlights the highly fluid nature of the quantum systems space, which will see systems vendors leapfrogging each other’s performance claims for the foreseeable future.
  3. Fermilab designed an introductory quantum computing course for high school and lay people interested in gaining a grasp on the subject without prior quantum mechanics familiarity. TBR believes this is a win for both the quantum space and the education space in the U.S. Public education increasingly emphasizes STEM and this course falls squarely in this area, reinforcing some public education goals while also working to improve knowledge of quantum computing at the high school level, which in turn will encourage students leaving high school and entering college to pursue degrees related to the subject. As the skills gap in the quantum field remains large, which will hinder scaling the technology’s commercial use, promoting quantum-related fields in higher education is paramount to the long-term viability of the technology at the commercial level.
  4. IQM, a Finnish startup that produces quantum hardware, secured another round of funding in June. This news came while the Finnish government announced it would acquire a quantum computer for the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Multiple European countries are making similar investments, with Germany also commissioning at least two quantum computers. With its team in Munich, IQM also has the potential to capitalize on investments in Germany in quantum systems. TBR notes these government-centric quantum system purchases are currently for research purposes. These developments highlight that despite having clear front-runners in the quantum computing space, such as IBM, Google and Honeywell, there is still a well-defined space in the market in which startups can thrive. In some cases, there are regional advantages that major players cannot capitalize on as well as startups. For example, governments outside the U.S. and China have a perceived threat of taking advantage of quantum technologies that are not locally native due to the potential security threat the systems could cause. As such, vendors such as IQM and Atos are able to secure funding in Europe that other players cannot.
  5. QC Ware entered a research partnership with AISIN Group, a major manufacturer of automotive components, to develop ways to leverage quantum optimization and quantum machine learning algorithms for automotive applications. QC Ware has partnerships with Rigetti Computing and D-Wave for quantum computing hardware, and this partnership with AISIN grants it access to their hardware capabilities too. A key advantage of this relationship with AISIN Group for QC Ware is not only increased exposure of its value within the quantum computing industry but also an expanded presence in Asia.

If you would like more detailed information around the quantum computing market, please inquire about TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, a semiannual deep dive into the quantum computing market. Our most recent version was just released in June.