IBM Quantum offers incremental improvements to commercializing exponential technology

Two of IBM’s core quantum offerings are of particular interest, as each is indicative of the growing market interest in becoming quantum ready and in trialing different prototypes ahead of the development of commercial-grade quantum computing capabilities.

Atos future-proofs compute ahead of Great Acceleration

As the world awaits the scientific discoveries needed to bring quantum processors to commercial applicability, Atos’ BullSequana XH3000 allows for ecosystem participation within the compute platform itself and future-proofs any early buyer investments. In its Feb. 16 official announcement of the XH3000 supercomputer, for which TBR was provided pre-briefing access, Atos claims the product will have a six-year life cycle and that it is an open architecture capable of housing up to 38 blades. The blades can accommodate a mix of different XPU processors, with more under consideration and development.

The rapid rise in large data sets and evolving AI/machine learning (ML) algorithms have driven this global appetite for greater compute capacity — an appetite that many data scientists believe will only be sated once quantum computers reach commercial viability. Atos’ early lead in quantum simulators and alliances with various quantum systems vendors imply the company will be capable of pivoting its high-performance computing (HPC) offerings quickly to accommodate the addition of commercial-grade quantum processors when they arrive. Atos’ flexible hybrid supercomputing architecture will sell well in Europe for a variety of reasons and may enable Atos to gain share against notable HPC vendors in North America and Asia.

Data and AI require new compute platforms to address intractable problems

Atos correctly asserts the state of compute trails the size of the data sets that are available to run algorithms. Specifically, the world is running out of computational capacity to address the complex problems that can now be simulated and analyzed through increasing digitization.

Proof points offered in the Atos announcement included:

  • Average HPC job durations grow as larger data sets will be applied against systems with as many as 10,000 nodes and 25,000 endpoints.
  • Application refactoring and algorithm refinements can provide as much as a 22x speed improvement.
  • Data centricity and edge processing grow in use case applicability, requiring greater hierarchical depth and more localized compute near the application.
  • Hybrid Sim/AI Workflows for approximate computing are nearing reality. Atos offered the example of Alphafold 2 for protein folding prediction reaching over 90% accuracy, whereas classical methods currently achieve between 30% to 40% accuracy.
  • Yet another industry prediction of reaching the physical limits of Moore’s law now that the industry is at 3nm technology.
  • Extending the performance gains from classical computing while quantum discovery and commercialization advance will require greater innovation around multiple XPU architectures. These hybrid or heterogenous compute architectures need a new compute system structure, which Atos believes the XH3000 system provides.

The Atos Exascale strategy is a hybrid approach that serves many masters

Atos states the future of supercomputing will be hybrid. According to Atos, the future of supercomputing will involve a hybrid approach, consisting in the near term of a blend of classical CPU configurations and specialized processor architectures to address specific workload requirements. Presently, Atos collaborates with AMD (Nasdaq: AMD), Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Nvidia (Nasdaq: NVDA), SiPearl and Graphcore, among others. Eurocentric chips based on ARM designs are also in the news and have been discussed by Atos.

Atos has addressed the need for future-proof flexibility in its designs by building the standard chassis of the BullSequana XH3000 to accommodate up to 38 compute/switch blades on one rack to be mixed and matched as workflows require from the different blades currently available and available in the future.

This hybrid architectural design approach serves many masters, such as those addressing:

  • Sustainability: Different cooling and processing designs not only generate greater computational capacity but also, when coupled with the hybrid configurations and algorithm innovations, can lead to lower power consumption, and therefore lower carbon footprints.
  • Sovereignty: Technonationalism is not going away, and Atos is a flagship European technology vendor. Former Atos CEO Thierry Breton is now the commissioner for internal market affairs within the European Union (EU) and has been tasked with managing many elements pertinent to digitization and “enhancing Europe’s technical sovereignty.” The EU has clearly stated its intentions to ensure there are European-controlled processors in market. Hybrid computing structures enable companies to select different processors to address the computational requirements amid the increased attention nation states place on compute access as a strategic national interest.
  • Higher performance: The HPC market increasingly takes on the dynamics of emerging ecosystem business models and requires a physical compute stack that can accommodate the many tech stack variations the ecosystem can create to address the world’s compute and AI challenges. Atos claims it also has built the architecture to be resilient and adaptable for six years without forklift upgrades. This flexibility, Atos asserts, can accommodate new discoveries as the unknowns around deep learning, algorithm development and new processor developments in the classical and quantum computing realms come into view.

Will the quantum computing investment summer of 2021 continue?

Volume of information being released around quantum initiatives leads TBR to believe the so-called quantum winter has passed

Last year the demand for agile solutions to persistent global challenges helped raise awareness of quantum computing’s potential. Investors took notice, as the quantum computing industry saw unprecedented backing from investors and progress in alliances around innovation, commercialization and workforce development. TBR believes this uptick in enterprise interest in quantum potential will continue throughout 2022.

In 2021 we saw some of the main hardware players continue to hit development road map milestones, new entrants in the market, and increased commitment to the technology stack, all of which we discuss further in our recently published 4Q21 Quantum Computing Market Landscape. While intimidating performance development gaps remain, the amount of funding that has been committed to the industry has provided clarity in a critical ingredient of innovation.

To access the entire 4Q21 Quantum Computing Market Landscape or speak with our subject-matter experts on quantum’s impact on your business, sign up for a 60-day free trial of TBR Insight Center™.

Additional developments highlighted in our recent 4Q21 Quantum Computing Market Landscape include:

  • Rigetti, the only pure play superconducting quantum computing startup, announced plans to become a public company via Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), Supernova Partners Acquisition Company II Ltd. As is customary with SPAC acquisitions, the deal will result in Rigetti receiving a massive cash infusion of $358 million, plus additional investor funds and $100 million in Private Investment via Private Equity. Rigetti would be the second company to go public, after IonQ, which went public in October. The $458 million Rigetti is to receive from this SPAC deal would well position the company to refocus on R&D objectives and invest in the system development race. To do so, the company would need to hire aggressively, as the talent pool that has the capability to lead and contribute to quantum system development is extremely limited. Based on the timeline of the IonQ deal announcement to execution, TBR predicts Rigetti will become public in May or June 2022.
  • It seemed to only be a matter of time until Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its own initiative to build a quantum computer. In October the cloud computing division announced it has built and operationalized AWS Center for Quantum Computing, located in Pasadena, Calif., officially launching AWS into the quantum computing race. AWS plans to build its quantum computers based on the superconducting architecture, positioning it to compete directly with IBM, Rigetti and Google. AWS has teased its intent to build a quantum computer hosted on Amazon Braket, its quantum computing resource provisioning service via AWS Cloud, and has released several quantum research papers, most notably one regarding a new method to build a fault-tolerant quantum computer based on Schrödinger’s cat qubits. The theoretical method incorporates both active and passive quantum error correction to combat the two main types of errors prevalent in quantum computing, bit flip and phase flip errors. It should be noted that, to this point, AWS has not yet realized a full prototype, or at least has not made such progress public.
  • IonQ, a leading vendor in the development of ion-trap quantum computers, made international commercial progress with its partnership with South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Company. The two companies plan to codevelop what will be the largest Variational Quantum Eigensolver algorithm run on a quantum system to date. The purpose of the algorithm is to simulate the properties of lithium oxide to improve battery technology used in electric vehicles. This partnership marks the second major alliance in South Korea, after IonQ’s three-year deal with Quantum Information Research Support Center at Sungkyunkwan University. TBR believes this activity is largely a result of co-founder and CTO Jungsang Kim’s strong ties to the country. Kim attended Seoul National University, widely regarded as the top university in the country, before receiving his Ph.D. in physics at Stanford University. In addition to his role at IonQ, Kim is a professor at Duke University and serves as a member of the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee.
  • Quantinuum, the newly minted business combination of Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum Computing, released one of the first true quantum offerings in 2021 in its cryptographic key generator service, Quantum Origin. While relatively narrow in use, the service generates truly random cryptographic keys, something that could previously only be simulated. In January the company announced a deal to make Quantum Origin available within the Strangeworks ecosystem. Strangeworks is attempting to create value in the enterprise space via a quantum ecosystem that allows members to access quantum offerings, software tools and educational services as well as a community of quantum-involved companies.
  • Capgemini and IBM announced a partnership to explore quantum use cases, particularly in the quantum communication and sensing areas, and to launch Capgemini’s Quantum Lab, which has quantum computer facilities in the U.K., Portugal and India. Capgemini will also serve as an IBM hub, meaning IBM will build an on-premises quantum computer for Capgemini, which will effectively expand IBM’s quantum system reach to European customers with lower latency. The deal includes IBM’s latest 127-qubit quantum processing unit, Eagle, which it released in December. 

Quick Quantum Quips: August quantum developments advance multiple rival architectures, with education and standards rising in importance

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 keeps the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

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

August Developments

The overall quantum market has seen an uptick in announcements and a trickle of introductory articles hitting mainstream media. On the one hand, quantum articles delivered to a broader audience can exacerbate the so-called hype cycle, but on the other hand the articles highlight that ongoing efforts in scientific discovery across the broader quantum landscape are beginning to show promise for delivering commercial-grade quantum computing infrastructure for businesses, academia and governments to use for advantage rather than just for exploration and experimentation with quantum logical constructs. For example, both Honeywell/Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) and Q-Ctrl released research signaling improvements in quantum error correction (QEC), which is crucial to the development of fault-tolerant quantum systems — the aspirational objective — of all quantum systems vendors today. In turn, IonQ announced a reconfigurable multicore quantum architecture (RMQA) that it believes has the potential to increase qubit counts into the triple digits on a single chip. Xanadu made announcements regarding advancements in photonic — or light-based — quantum computing in a form factor the size of a penny that could one day eclipse the early advantage of the superconducting and trapped ion architectures.

IBM hosted a two-day virtual event for academia to discuss the curricula necessary to provide native quantum credentials to those entering the workforce at the dawn of this era in the ever-evolving technology sector. The Hudson Institute’s Quantum Alliance Initiative (QAI) added another partner, Quantum eMotion, to its efforts to create global standards for quantum communications that will be necessary for the scaled utilization of this game-changing compute technology.

Honeywell/CQC and Q-CTRL: Both entities promoted advancements in QEC in an effort to optimize qubit computational accuracy. QEC is a critical tool many quantum system vendors, such as IBM, are investing considerable time and energy in trying to perfect, as it is necessary to achieve fault-tolerant quantum that can address not only noise on stored quantum information but also faulty quantum gates, quantum preparation and measurements. QEC is at the heart of quantum advantages in computation by delivering precise outputs with lower time and cost input. The importance of QEC also indicates that a broad quantum ecosystem is necessary to make the computational potential of quantum a reality.

IonQ made a major announcement in late August about a patent-pending chip design offering tighter ion confinement, improved ion lifetime and reduced ion heating that relies on IonQ’s technological platform, which is called Evaporated Glass Traps (EGTs). The architecture is expected to allow IonQ to scale qubit count on its quantum chips without suffering qubit fidelity performance losses.

Xanadu and imec: Xanadu, a Canada-based quantum computing company, collaborated with Belgium-based fabricator imec around photonic or light computing and has moved to the point of early production. The partnership illustrates the need for a broad ecosystem of quantum adjacent businesses capable of taking lab innovations into scaled production.

IBM Quantum Educators Summit: IBM sponsored a virtual summit Aug. 3-4 aimed at high school and undergraduate educators seeking to learn how to incorporate foundational quantum computing elements into their courses. Of interest to TBR in auditing the conference was the premise put forth by the speakers that the world’s quantum experts are actually quantum immigrants, having come to the field from other academic tracks such as physics and mathematics. As such, the fundamental impetus for the summit was to assist academia in assembling the proper curricula to prepare native quantum professionals for students interested in the growing number of quantum — and quantum-adjacent — professional tracks that will arise as the leading innovators develop fault-tolerant quantum.

Quantum eMotion: Montreal-based Quantum eMotion announced it joined the Hudson Institute’s QAI, which is an international consortium of companies, institutions and academics. QAI seeks to establish policies that will serve as guardrails for quantum as the technology emerges into a mature and mission-critical element of global business and research. A primary focus for the organization is looking at the impact the domain will have on national security and on the economy and how QAI can foster global standards for securing quantum communication. With individual nation states and regions all vying to assure a quantum gravity center and the high value jobs that will come with it, the establishment of these standard protocols has been both a delicate and sclerotic process.

Quick Quantum Quips: Public investment, national rivalries, business restructurings and process innovation heat up

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 keeps the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

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

June Developments:

June quantum computing market activities illustrate the growing public sector interest in quantum as both a source of high-paying jobs and a technology vital to a company’s strategic sovereign interests. Legacy technology innovation has always hinged on early funding for “protection of the commons” initiatives, where the funding was essentially for scientific discovery that, once hardened, could be retooled for commercial use cases. Quantum systems are no different in that regard.

Similarly, the Honeywell spin-merger with CQC also enables the new entity to participate in several national initiatives around cybersecurity and national defense by combining U.S. and U.K. firms into one operating unit. Scientific discovery and manufacturing process innovation also merited mention this month as Rigetti announced a chip manufacturing process that it claims will facilitate the manufacture of highly scalable systems of hundreds, if not thousands, of qubits.  

  1. Federated Quantum System (FQS) announced during the G-7 summit that the U.S., U.K., Japan, Canada, Italy, Belgium and Austria will collaborate on a on a satellite-based quantum technology encryption network based on assets being developed by British startup Arqit. Companies from those countries will also join the initiative to help design and test the system. With ransomware attacks bringing cybersecurity to the forefront of the news, this multinational encryption initiative for military communications between allied nations represents encouraging signs for international cooperation that can potentially produce the funding necessary to advance quantum to a point where it is commercially advantageous.
  2. Germany formally announced its quantum data center facility, to be located near Stuttgart and  managed by prominent applied research organization Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The event underscores the strategic importance many nation states place on ensuring a center of gravity within the quantum world within their sovereign borders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a unique political figure in that her formal education is in quantum chemistry. While keeping a watchful eye on quantum developments in the U.S. and China and wanting to maintain and build quantum intellectual property indigenous to Germany, the quantum system is being installed by IBM, which maintains a dominant early lead in the nascent industry. The European Union (EU) has taken a leadership position in establishing policy legislation around data sovereignty. Integral to this installation will be the localization of the data within Germany.
  3. The EU loosened restrictions it had imposed on non-EU nations participating in its quantum research initiatives. Launched in February under the legislative banner Horizon Europe, which calls for funding of 95.5 billion euros in total, the initiative calls for curiosity-driven proposals from the European Research Council. Viewed as strategically important to the overall security of the EU, a month-long parliamentary debate occurred on whether to allow non-EU nations such as the U.K., Switzerland and Israel to participate. The final compromise allows for limited participation by non-EU nations provided they agree to special “assurances” regarding protecting the confidentiality of the technology. This agreement and the wrangling over who can participate underscores the growing political interest in a technology that, once hardened, will radically alter cybersecurity and military weapons systems.
  4. Honeywell and Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) announced a spin-merger combining Honeywell’s quantum assets with those of CQC. An early investor in the ion trap hardware stack, Honeywell will retain a majority stake in the combined entity, which will include CQC’s software stack as well. CQC will remain system-agnostic. Honeywell claims the impetus for creating a stand-alone quantum entity was to facilitate investment from various capital sources that may have been reticent to invest in the operation when it was a wholly owned Honeywell subsidiary. Each entity has been an early leader in the space. In addition to increasing funding opportunities, the combined entity also aims to create a consolidated talent pool of quantum experts at a time when human talent capable of scientific discovery in this domain is in short supply.
  5. Rigetti Computing held an early lead in full-stack quantum development but has struggled lately to keep pace with the investment funding necessary to compete with heavily capitalized firms such as IBM, Google and Microsoft. In June Rigetti announced it had developed a scalable manufacturing design process for quantum chips manufacturing in its fabrication plant in California. Rigetti claims it has a multichip approach that will allow the company to connect multiple identical dies into a large-scale quantum processor. Rigetti alleges connecting multiple smaller dies reduces manufacturing complexity and allows for accelerated, predictable scaling.  

If you would like more detailed information about the quantum computing market, please inquire about TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, a semiannual deep dive into the quantum computing market. Our next edition, publishing in July, will focus on evolving services and overall market maturation indicators.

Quick Quantum Quips: The quantum industry introduces its first public company

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 keeps the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

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

March 2021 Developments:

Quantum developments this month saw IBM score its first on-premises quantum computer deal, Honeywell push the ball forward by achieving a record quantum volume (QV), more newcomers join the IBM Quantum Network, and the first pure-play quantum computing startup to sign a deal to go public.

IBM: IBM announced a partnership with Cleveland Clinic, dubbed Discovery Accelerator, to utilize quantum computing for scientific research and discovery. What makes this partnership particularly unique is that IBM will supply Cleveland Clinic with a quantum machine on premises — a major milestone as the first order for an on-premises quantum installation. Other quantum engagements up to this point have utilized quantum computing through cloud infrastructure providers such as IBM, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Despite the nascency of quantum applications in real-world scenarios, the IBM-Cleveland Clinic partnership makes sense for multiple reasons. For starters, “wet labs” for scientific and novel drug discovery are one of the hypothesized earliest use cases as healthcare organizations have the means to purchase and house the popular superconducting quantum computer architectures, which require extremely cool environments, much like the Pfizer vaccine does, albeit at considerably lower temperatures. Additionally, the practical compatibility of early quantum applications for optimization problems creates large incentives such as increased scientific discovery efficiency, which reduces time & materials and labor costs. Moreover, the sharp increase of investments into the healthcare and quantum industry, catalyzed by COVID-19, put the two industries on a collision course.

IonQ: IonQ officially announced a deal to became the first pure play quantum computing company to go public, via a merger with dMY Technology Group III, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The entity has an estimated combined market cap valuation of $2 billion. It is a significant milestone for the still-nascent quantum computing industry. Notably, however, IonQ did not choose the IPO route in going public, which may indicate wariness to test the public appetite for not-yet-commercially-ready quantum. Additionally, merging with a SPAC has several advantages, including bypassing the arduous IPO process, securing a prequantifiable cash infusion and gaining experienced guidance from leadership of the SPAC.

Honeywell: On the hardware system side, Honeywell achieved a QV of 512, a new record in the industry, on its latest form factor, System Model H1. QV is a metric developed by IBM in the pursuit of a better way to measure quantum computing performance, in place of the less-than-objective measure through qubit count. This achievement by Honeywell’s System Model H1 is notable as it debuted in September with a QV of 128.

On the commercial side, BMW announced a dual partnership with Honeywell and Entropica Labs to run a quantum proof-of-concept for BMW’s supply chain. The presumed role of Honeywell is as the supply-side quantum hardware vendor, while Entropica Labs provides the demand-side algorithms required for BMW to reap the benefits of quantum computing tied to the automaker’s bespoke problem set.

Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC): On the scientific discovery side of the quantum industry, CQC published a paper demonstrating that quantum machines can employ machine learning (ML) techniques to “learn to infer hidden information from broad probabilistic reasoning models. The implications of these findings open the door to quantum applications in previously unconfirmed use-case scenarios. The biggest near-term beneficiaries are expected to be quantum hardware and software developers as well as ML scientists.

Phasecraft: This U.K.-based quantum software company joined the IBM Quantum Network, a global consortium of hundreds of quantum computing companies, startups, academic institutions and research organizations in the name of wholistically advancing quantum development from physical systems to algorithms and applications. Phasecraft currently develops algorithms aimed at optimizing and utilizing near-term quantum computers.

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 latest edition, published in December, focuses on the software layer of quantum systems.

Note to readers: As of the March edition of Q3, Stephanie Long, the creator of this blog, has moved on from TBR Inc. and bestowed this series to me, Jacob Fong. TBR and I would like to thank Stephanie for all her phenomenal work and analysis at the company and through this blog series on the ever-fascinating industry that is quantum computing.

Quick Quantum Quips: Vendors seek ways to increase quantum accessibility

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 keeps 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.

February 2021 Developments

As the power of quantum computing becomes more widely understood, accelerating access to quantum technology and quantum-like capabilities has become a key focus of vendors in the industry worldwide. The COVID-19 vaccine has highlighted the value quantum computing can have in accelerating drug discovery, creation, manufacture and distribution once the technology can be fully harnessed. Additionally, direct application of quantum computing exists in climate change, a top global concern, and sustainability, a focus of major corporations.

  1. Quantum Computing Inc. (QCI) unveiled Qatalyst, a quantum application accelerator. The aim of this software-centric offering is to leverage quantum principles with classically trained computer scientists to harness the power of quantum technologies for complex optimization problems such as supply chain and delivery route optimization by bypassing QPUs and leveraging APIs in their place. While Qatalyst is likely to accelerate near-term access to quantum computing capabilities, TBR believes advancements in other quantum computing technologies will surpass it in the long term. Qatalyst and related QPU and CPU resources are all available via the cloud and do not require on-premises resources to access.
  2. Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) partnered with CrownBio and JSR Life Sciences on cancer treatment research. The companies will leverage CQC’s quantum capabilities and CrownBio and JSR’s years of cancer-related research and data to identify multigene biomarkers for cancer treatment drug discovery. It is generally accepted throughout the quantum community that drug discovery will be one of the initial use cases for quantum systems that will be able to achieve economic advantage due to the costly and laborious techniques currently employed in drug discovery. Quantum computing could accelerate this process and reduce the amount of wet-lab research necessary to bring new drugs to market.
  3. IonQ is in early talks to merge with public company DMYT Technology Group Inc., which is a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) created for the purpose of acquiring an existing company. The merger would enable IonQ to become a public company without going through a lengthy initial public offering. This would be the first U.S.-based pure play quantum computing vendor to go public through a SPAC if it comes to fruition. IonQ is also one of the leading vendors in the trapped ion quantum architecture space, and an IPO would provide the vendor with access to additional capital, which could accelerate its innovation efforts.
  4. D-Wave expanded the availability of its Leap quantum cloud service to Singapore, providing users in the country with real-time access to D-Wave’s Advantage quantum computer, hybrid quantum/classical solvers, and the Quantum Application Environment (QAE).
  5. Microsoft has acknowledged the potential positive impact quantum computing could have on energy, including reducing emissions and power consumption. Further, the research enabled by quantum technologies could lead to discoveries around cleaner energy sources and more efficient electrical power systems. TBR notes there has been an industrywide increase in focus on sustainability so while these acknowledgements by Microsoft of the environmental benefits of quantum computing are not unique, they mesh well with industrywide marketing efforts.

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 latest version, published in December, focuses on the software layer of quantum systems.

IBM unveils 5-year full-stack quantum road map

IBM’s quantum road map includes dynamic circuits in 2022

IBM (NYSE: IBM) spent the second half of the 2010s laying the foundation for its quantum business. This foundation predominantly focused on hardware development and hardening until the available quantum systems at IBM supported more sophisticated software capabilities. In the 2020s, IBM is now able to pivot its strategy toward more sophisticated aspects of quantum computing, mainly software and control, but with a constant current of hardware innovation to fundamentally support more sophisticated software innovation.

Reminiscent of Intel’s tick-tock development cycle, where the “tick” represented a new chip design and the “tock” represented software optimizations, IBM now has sufficiently stable quantum componentry within the systems to begin working on the next evolutionary step, which is the creation of dynamic circuits within the next two years. As IBM has  decided to build off existing, classical programming languages, Python is at the core of IBM Quantum’s software strategy. This provides IBM with access to about 8 million existing classical computing Python coders, who need minimal quantum-specific training to pivot into this new world of computing.

A key pillar of IBM’s quantum road map and a game-changer in scalability and speed to insight is the development of dynamic circuits, which IBM has listed as a 2022 goal on its road map. Dynamic circuits will enable quantum computation to more closely mimic classical computation in that if/then statements will become possible on quantum computing. Without dynamic circuits, quantum algorithms cannot pivot midway through a process. Therefore, one must run an algorithm through completion, analyze that data and then run another circuit based on insights gained halfway through the process. Dynamic circuits enable an algorithm to measure a qubit’s state — a 0 or a 1 — at a predetermined point in the process and react accordingly, reducing the need to rerun algorithms and reducing the time to insight as well as the volume of qubits consumed.


Market overview: IBM’s five-year quantum road map comprises developments across the entire quantum infrastructure stack, including hardware, software, services, ecosystem and use-case-specific goals. General focus areas include an emphasis on application modules through 2022 and on application services from 2023 to 2025. Underpinning these broad goals is the systematic development of hardware, software and services capabilities, much of which hinges on a quantum ecosystem IBM has invested in and built, the foundation of which is Qiskit and the IBM Quantum Network. Developing cloud-based solutions is a theme of quantum developments, as COVID-19 has both highlighted and accelerated the need and desire by customers to consume compute capabilities via the cloud.

Quick Quantum Quips: Quantum use cases expand to new industries

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 keeps 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.

January 2021 Developments

An increasing number of companies across a variety of industries are making deals and forming partnerships to seize opportunities for first movers in emerging quantum technology. Many organizations and several international governments are focused on laying a broad foundation for quantum innovation. However, with quantum expected to be a major disruptor in biopharma research and development as the technology matures, a considerable number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies are approaching quantum investments from a narrower perspective. Together, private organizations and public entities will continue to drive the emergence of new quantum use cases through investments that will also accelerate the adoption of the technology.

  1. Atos announced its commitment to participate in France’s quantum plan to take advantage of new and upcoming quantum-related capabilities. Through the strategy, the French government will collaborate with private industry partners and academic institutions to leverage quantum technology in a way that addresses wide-ranging socioeconomic issues, including healthcare, finance and the environment. Atos will contribute its post-quantum cryptography and will develop Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) simulators and accelerators and integrate them into high-performance computing platforms. Atos’ industry expertise and international business relationships will also play a role in advancing France’s national quantum strategy as well as the European Union’s (EU) quantum strategy, which seeks to leverage EU-based quantum innovations across the continent. Atos’ actions will not only benefit the French government and the country’s residents but also strengthen the company’s posture in the global quantum space.
  2. Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) appointed Bob Coecke as chief scientist. Coecke was a University of Oxford professor for the past 20 years and served CQC as a senior scientific adviser prior to his appointment. His quantum knowledge makes him a strong asset for CQC. The quantum computing company also announced a solution that addresses a multiphase flow classification problem within the energy sector. Working in partnership with Aker BP, a European energy company, CQC developed and validated a quantum machine learning (QML) algorithm delivered by IBM quantum processors. The QML algorithm stands as one of the industry’s first use cases in the energy sector, paving the way for related innovations.
  3. Google entered into a collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim, a Germany-based pharmaceutical company, to support its biopharma research and development with quantum technology. Over the course of three years, Boehringer will co-lead the project from its new Quantum Lab and will leverage Google’s Quantum AI division to simulate biological mechanics. The companies anticipate these simulations will contribute to the discovery of modern medical treatments, and Boehringer expects that quantum will redefine the pharmaceutical industry by accelerating R&D processes.
  4. Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced it will collaborate with India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to establish a quantum computing applications lab in the country. Once the lab is complete, government agencies and other local entities will be able to take advantage of quantum computing “as a Service,” addressing use cases in industries ranging from healthcare to agriculture. AWS will continue to support the lab, providing hosting and technical assistance. This collaboration will expand AWS’ footprint in the region, which will prove valuable as India’s digital transformation gains momentum.
  5. Microsoft will host its second Azure Quantum Developer Workshop on Feb. 2. The event will feature technology from select members of Microsoft’s Azure Quantum ecosystem. Honeywell, 1QBit and IonQ will highlight how Azure Quantum supports their respective quantum technologies and associated use cases. Microsoft will use the event to market the value of Azure Quantum to outside developers.

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 latest version, published in December, focuses on the software layer of quantum systems.

Women in STEM: IBM’s Jennifer Glick on navigating the quantum career path

The STEM field is growing, creating tremendous opportunity for well-trained applicants. While STEM has traditionally been a male-dominated field, cultivating interest at the undergraduate level can help draw in more women who may have the necessary skills but have never considered STEM as a career path. In TBR’s monthly series Women in STEM, we discuss how female leaders have successfully pursued careers in STEM and are encouraging more female representation by passing on the lessons they’ve learned to other women who are pursuing this path.

Meet Jennifer Glick, a quantum computing applications researcher at IBM

Jennifer Glick received her doctorate in physics in 2017 for her work on the quantum information theory of measurement. In 2020 Glick was selected as one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 for her work in quantum computing.

Jennifer Glick, IBM
Jennifer Glick, IBM Quantum Computing Applications Researcher

In her current role at IBM, Glick identifies promising quantum applications and develops proofs of concepts that drive advancements in quantum algorithms and methods. This work is essential to moving quantum computing from labs to the real world. In our recent discussion with Glick, she spoke of viewing college with an outcome mindset and boosting learning through free online resources as well as navigating the science path to a quantum career.

Encourage women to pursue STEM careers by being available to answer questions

Navigating the transition from academia to the corporate world can be difficult as universities do not always provide significant scaffolding during students’ academic career. For the highly specialized STEM fields, this is particularly true. But Glick recommends embracing this perceived roadblock with a growth mindset. “It turns out, [a growth mindset] is a great antidote to the impostor syndrome. Strategically seek out new experiences, ideas and challenges that get you out of your comfort zone,” says Glick. “It’s surprising how much you can learn just by observing the people around you.”

Glick adds that leaders in STEM fields can encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM by helping foster their initial interest and supporting them as that interest flourishes. Glick practices what she preaches, having mentored high school, undergraduate and graduate students while working toward her Ph.D.

View college with an outcome mindset, and then build backward with coursework

Many companies take a solutions outcome approach to their technology investments. Customers seek a particular outcome, and vendors then build architectures behind the scenes to enable that outcome. The customer does not necessarily know or care what underlying infrastructure they obtain as long as the desired outcome is achieved.

Education and how it relates to career choice can be thought of in a similar way. We compartmentalize education as something you complete before you start a career, but the reality is that lifelong learners are more likely to have successful careers. Glick’s advice to women considering a career in quantum computing is, “Study a combination of quantum physics, computer science and applied mathematics. A Ph.D. in physics is not strictly a prerequisite for working in quantum computing.”

Retool your existing skills via free online resources

For many, the idea of going back to college for additional degree work is unattainable. For those without existing degrees in quantum-related areas, Glick recommends leveraging free online resources to learn as much as you can on your subject of interest. As the field of quantum computing matures and expands, many related jobs in the industry are emerging, including around software engineering, sales, marketing and design. A variety of skills are necessary for the field of quantum computing to have long-term success. “Pay attention to key thought leaders in quantum computing — they can offer insight into where the field might be headed in the years to come,” says Glick.

Additionally, Glick recommends finding internships within the industry. Well-established STEM fields frequently offer internships to help apprentice young people seeking to work in fields with skills shortages. As careers in STEM become more technical, undergraduate degrees lay the foundational knowledge but on-the-job-training is the most valuable way to obtain the specialized skills necessary to succeed in STEM. A longstanding challenge with internship access has been physical location. However, COVID-19, for all of the hardships it has created, has connected the world digitally more than ever before. Young people in rural locations can now access internships and training at major metropolitan corporations virtually, which removes this physical location roadblock.

Don’t be daunted by the science: Quantum is a growing field with nonscientific opportunities as well

Perhaps Glick’s most important piece of advice is the reminder that emerging and complex scientific technologies are accessible. “Start using quantum computers,” says Glick. “Contribute to open-source software, try the circuit composer on the IBM Quantum Experience, use Qiskit to design and test quantum circuits and algorithms.” IBM has provided ways for people interested in a career in quantum computing, or simply interested in the technology as a hobby, to access it and not only learn from the technology but also eventually teach others. Leveraging online resources and courses, such as the Qiskit Textbook and Qiskit Global Summer School, in conjunction with playing around with IBM’s accessible quantum assets are ways to become smarter around a STEM technology.