In a news release and two different blog articles and technical papers, Honeywell has provided some details on their ion trap quantum architecture that they have dubbed QCCD (quantum charge coupled device). They have indicated that they will be introducing within the next 3 months a quantum computer with a Quantum Volume measure of 64 or greater which would double the current quantum volume measure recently announced by IBM in their latest quantum computer. Moreover, they described a goal to increase this measure by an order of magnitude per year for the next several years, which would certainly beat out IBM’s stated goal of doubling their quantum volume every year. We should also note that not everyone within the quantum community agrees that quantum volume is the best measure for comparing the performance of different quantum machines, nor has anyone besides IBM and Honeywell used this metric when describing the performance of their machines.
In a technical paper, Honeywell describes the design in more detail and includes some qubit benchmarking results which look quite good. (We have already added Honeywell’s data to our Qubit Quality tables so you can compare their metrics versus some other designs.) Honeywell did not disclose the number of qubits they will have in the machine that will be released later this year, but we will point it that is feasible to create a design with a quantum volume of 64 with as few as 6 very high quality qubits. Their technical paper also did not mention gate delays or coherence times for their design. Typically, ion trap machines have gate delays which are orders of magnitude worse than superconducting designs, but also have coherence times which are orders of magnitude better.
Honeywell also announced that one of their first commercial customers will be JPMorgan Chase. This is interesting because JPMorgan Chase is also one of IBM’s industry partners in their IBM Q Network. So JPMorgan Chase will be in a good position to compare the two platforms.
It appears that Honeywell will rely upon partners to provide software support rather than developing their own like some of the other quantum hardware vendors. Their investments in Zapata and Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) will certainly help this. Both software companies have professed a philosophy of developing hardware agnostic software platforms that can accommodate a variety of platforms so they will surely have support for the Honeywell hardware in the future. And since Honeywell is partnering with Microsoft Azure to provide cloud access to their machines, it’s a safe bet that their hardware will also be supported by Microsoft’s Q# quantum programming language.
March 4, 2020