IBM has officially opened the new quantum data center in Poughkeepsie, New York that we reported on last January. With the addition of this new center, IBM will have publicly available ten quantum computers, including five IBM Q Systems One 20-qubit machines, one 14-qubit machine, and four 5-qubit machines. In addition, they indicated that they will add four additional machines in the coming month to bring the total to 14. This total does not include any research machines that IBM is using internally in one of their research facilities. Nor does it include any machines that will be installed in Europe as we reported in our recent article reporting on IBM’s partnership with the Fraunhofer.

The larger machines will support their commercial IBM Q Network customers while the smaller machines will support both individual users accessing the machines over the IBM Q Experience as well as educational and academic users who will be able to have reserved access to a few of the 5-qubit machines as part of IBM’s educational program announced earlier this month.

IBM also announced they will be bringing on-line next month a new 53 qubit machine, codenamed Rochester, which will be available to their commercial customers in the IBM Q Network. Although technical details on this machine are not yet available, we do expect it to be significantly more powerful than the current 20 qubit machines. IBM measures overall quantum computing power with a measure called Quantum Volume which is a function of both the number of qubits and the quality of the qubits. The 20-qubit IBM Q System One has a Quantum Volume measure of 16 and IBM has indicated they intend on doubling this measure every year. So the 53-qubit machine should have a Quantum Volume measure that is much higher than the previous machines as long as the qubit quality levels are maintained. The topology of the Rochester device is shown below.

Since 50 qubits is generally regarded as the limit for what can be simulated on a classical computer, the 53 qubit machine might have a chance to start processing a small number of applications in a production mode and demonstrate quantum advantage. However, as we have mentioned in a previous article, classical technology is not standing still so surpassing it does represent a moving target.

For more information, you can view IBM’s news release announcing the opening of the new data center here and a blog article with additional technical details here.

September 19, 2019