IBM Touts Breakthrough 127-Qubit Quantum Processor
November 16, 2021
IBM introduced its new 127-quantum bit (qubit) 'Eagle' processor at the
IBM Quantum Summit 2021, its annual event to showcase milestones in
quantum hardware, software, and the growth of the quantum ecosystem. The
'Eagle' processor is a breakthrough in tapping into the massive
computing potential of devices based on quantum physics. It heralds the
point in hardware development where quantum circuits cannot be reliably
simulated exactly on a classical computer. IBM also previewed plans for
IBM Quantum System Two, the next generation of quantum systems.
Quantum computing taps into the fundamental quantum nature of matter at
subatomic levels to offer the possibility of vastly increased computing
power. The fundamental computational unit of quantum computing is the
quantum circuit, an arrangement of qubits into quantum gates and
measurements. The more qubits a quantum processor possesses, the more
complex and valuable the quantum circuits that it can run.
IBM recently debuted detailed roadmaps for quantum computing, including
a path for scaling quantum hardware to enable complex quantum circuits
to reach Quantum Advantage, the point at which quantum systems can
meaningfully outperform their classical counterpoints. Eagle is the
latest step along this scaling path.
IBM measures progress in quantum computing hardware through three
performance attributes: Scale, Quality and Speed. Scale is measured in
the number of qubits on a quantum processor and determines how large of
a quantum circuit can be run. Quality is measured by Quantum Volume and
describes how accurately quantum circuits run on a real quantum device.
Speed is measured by CLOPS (Circuit Layer Operations Per Second), a
metric IBM introduced in November 2021, and captures the feasibility of
running real calculations composed of a large number of quantum
127-qubit Eagle processor
'Eagle' is IBM's first quantum processor developed and deployed to
contain more than 100 operational and connected qubits. It follows IBM's
65-qubit 'Hummingbird' processor unveiled in 2020 and the 27-qubit
'Falcon' processor unveiled in 2019. To achieve this breakthrough, IBM
researchers built on innovations pioneered within its existing quantum
processors, such as a qubit arrangement design to reduce errors and an
architecture to reduce the number of necessary components. The new
techniques leveraged within Eagle place control wiring on multiple
physical levels within the processor while keeping the qubits on a
single layer, which enables a significant increase in qubits.
increased qubit count will allow users to explore problems at a new
level of complexity when undertaking experiments and running
applications, such as optimizing machine learning or modeling new
molecules and materials for use in areas spanning from the energy
industry to the drug discovery process. 'Eagle' is the first IBM quantum
processor whose scale makes it impossible for a classical computer to
reliably simulate. In fact, the number of classical bits necessary to
represent a state on the 127-qubit processor exceeds the total number of
atoms in the more than 7.5 billion people alive today.
"The arrival of the 'Eagle' processor is a major step towards the day
when quantum computers can outperform classical computers for useful
applications," said Dr. Darío Gil, Senior Vice President, IBM and
Director of Research. "Quantum computing has the power to transform
nearly every sector and help us tackle the biggest problems of our time.
This is why IBM continues to rapidly innovate quantum hardware and
software design, building ways for quantum and classical workloads to
empower each other, and create a global ecosystem that is imperative to
the growth of a quantum industry."
The first 'Eagle' processor is available as an exploratory device on the
IBM Cloud to select members of the IBM Quantum Network.