Friday, June 14, 2024

Empowering High-Performance Computers with Quantum Chips

Quantum computers have the potential to have an impact on almost all aspects of society, from providing solutions to climate change to developing new materials and drugs.

Across different qubit (short for a quantum bit) technologies, researchers are rapidly finding new ways to solve practical problems in a wide range of industries. While there are currently applications for quantum computing systems, they are not yet at their full potential. Realistically, researchers believe we are still years away from the practical realization of universal fault-tolerant quantum computers that will provide exponential quantum computational power.

However, there is a way to use the speed and power that quantum computers offer today: integration with classical computers. Quantum computers integrate effectively with high-performance computers (HPC) to increase computing power and allow researchers to run complex algorithms, perform experiments and accelerate optimization tasks.

Research and development laboratories across the globe are integrating quantum computing control stacks and technology into high-performance computers. Integration of a quantum processor to accelerate HPC is useful for offloading complex computations to the quantum processor. None of this is possible without the quantum control stack.

How a quantum control stack integrates with a high-performance computer

The process of integrating quantum with classical resources can accelerate the performance of both systems. There is potential for the quantum control stack to perform as a core computational tool in unison with the classical computer.

The quantum control stack is at the center of this system, providing the capabilities to execute the algorithms. To do so effectively, it must be able to schedule quantum operations and electrical pulses while communicating between the classical and quantum systems effectively. Scheduling resources is integral to successful integration that optimizes the offload of tasks to the quantum system or to the classical computer.

Depending on the control stack, use case, and bottlenecks for each specific research center, it can be useful to co-locate the quantum control stack as physically close to the classical computing system as possible. However, some quantum control stacks have naturally low latency and communicate effectively at a distance.

Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum Devices and Error Correction

Quantum computing is currently in what is known as the Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) era. As implied by the term, noise is still present in this generation of quantum computing technology. However, quantum computers offer high computational power when paired with HPC. To reach the goal of fault-tolerant computers, the quantum industry will continue to see fewer computational-level errors as the technology improves.

The current generation of quantum computers is limited by error-prone qubits, whether they are superconducting qubits, spin qubits or photonic qubits, or others. The current hardware and software systems are not yet efficient at performing error correction. To offset this, real-time feedback and decoding need to take place either within the control stack or with the aid of a classical computer. Real-time feedback ensures that errors are identified and corrected within the system.

However, change is swift, with new breakthroughs being regularly announced. This is why a scalable and flexible approach is key to staying at the cutting edge of this exciting new sphere.

Scalability Is the Key

Although initially dominating the academic sphere, practical uses for quantum computing are becoming more common around the world. Research and development into new iterations of hardware and software and other high-performance computing centers operating at the forefront of new technology are using quantum processors to accelerate their computational power.

For this reason, it is a real advantage to use control stacks that use distributed architecture and a modular approach to ensure scalability and adaptability. Another element of adaptability is the importance of a system that can work with various qubit technologies and is not bound to one type of qubit technology.

HPC and Quantum Integration 

The integration of HPC and quantum computing is already driving innovation in the fields of technology and medicine, among others. While there is still room for growth as quantum computers become more stable and less error-prone, there are already several use cases of successful quantum and HPC collaborations paving the way for the future of quantum computing and many more to come.