Picture of the QICK design. The left PCB is the evalutaiton board which contains the Xilinx FPGA. The right PCB is the RF board which can implement additional signal downconversion, amplication, and filtering. Credit: Fermilab

The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) has teamed with the University of Chicago to develop a new open-source design for control electronics for superconducting quantum processors called the Quantum Instrumentation Control Kit (QICK for short). A key differentiator of this design is that it leverages a new FPGA chip from Xilinx called the ZYNQ RFSoC which is highly integrated and includes high-speed DACs, ADCs, programmable FPGA logic, and a conventional microprocessor all in the same package. This new chip allows the control pulses to be synthesized directly at the microwave frequencies. Most other designs will create the control pulses at a lower intermediate frequency and then use a technique called upconversion to change the signal to operate at the microwave frequencies required by the qubits. Because the design uses the highly integrated Xilinx FPGA chip, it can eliminate the upconversion step and associated components. This makes the design faster, smaller, cheaper, and simplifies the calibration process. A low-cost version of the hardware is now available only for universities for educational purposes. Additional information about this QICK control electronics design is available in news release from Fermilab and also a technical paper published in the Review of Scientific Instruments.

April 30, 2022