IBM had announced in late 2019 a new capability called OpenPulse that would allow programmers to program their quantum computers at the pulse level in addition to the gate level. Among other things, this would allow the programmer to implement a function which was not part of the native gate set provided by IBM. This feature allows users to attach custom gates defined via their pulse representation, called “calibrations” in Qiskit, to QASM circuits. It could allow a user to implement a function with either higher overall fidelity and/or a lower gate depth. Since original announcement, this capability has had limited availability which was restricted to either select machines or select researchers. Now, IBM has announced that this feature, which they now call pulse gates, has been made available to all users on all of their machines. Additional documentation about the pulse gates can be found in a tutorial located here.
IBM also developed a new feature for their cloud service called Qiskit Runtime which can provide significant runtime improvements for hybrid classical and quantum Python programs that require iterative quantum/classical processing.. To encourage people to explore this new capability they are sponsoring an IEEE SERVICES Hackathon 2021 to challenge the participants to design a quantum cloud service using Qiskit Runtime. The challenge in the hackathon will be for participants to create innovative cloud services on top of custom quantum programs or to find novel applications for the Qiskit Runtime’s built-in library. It is open to all people, professionals, undergraduate, and postgraduate students from universities, companies and institutions worldwide who are 18 years and older and the deadline is August 30th. More information about this hackathon can be found on IEEE SERVICES GitHub pages here and here.
July 17, 2021