In a press release right before Christmas, Fujitsu has introduced a second generation digital annealer with some impressive specifications as compared to their first generation machine and also quantum annealers. A digital annealer is a special purpose classical computing device that is designed to solve combinatorial optimization problems.

Fujitsu Digital Annealing Unit

Some key specs for the machine are as follows:

  • Bit count increased to 8192 versus 1024 in the previous generation
  • All-to-all bit coupling
  • Coupling coefficient precision increased to 64 bits versus 16 bits of the previous generation. (For applications using 4096 bits or less. Applications requiring above 4096 bits revert back to using 16 bits of precision.)
  • No decoherence or other quantum noise since the machine uses classical digital electronics.
  • Availability of an automatic tuning option for controlling parameters

Fujitsu is starting to roll out cloud service for use of this machine to North America and Europe now with service in Asia later in 2019. In addition, for customers wishing to have their own machine in-house, they are planning to start offering on-premise installations in February 2019. In their press release, Fujitsu made a particularly aggressive statement indicating they have a goal of achieving 100 million yen of sales (about $900 million USD) between now and their fiscal 2022, which ends in March 2023.

Although we don’t know how well this technology works in practice, based upon the specifications the hardware appears to be a strong challenge to both D-Wave’s current and next generation machines. D-Wave may still have advantages due to their Leap application environment, algorithm experience, customer relationships, and a time-to-market head start, but it will be interesting to see how this will play out in the year’s ahead.

For more information on Fujitsu’s announcement and digital annealer technology, you can view their press release here, an “Introduction of Digital Annealer” overview presentation here, and the home page for their digital annealer product line here.