QuEra is now making their 256 qubit analog quantum processor, named Aquila, available on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The companies had announced their intent on doing this last November. This would be one of the first neutral atom based processors available via one of the public cloud vendors. It will be available for ten hours per week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The processor can be programmed with the AWS Braket SDK, and soon QuEra’s own Bloqade software platform based upon the Julia programming language will also support Aquila.
QuEra’s technology is based upon Rubidium atoms for forming the quantum states. It has a number of advantages. First, because the atoms are neutral, and not charged like the atoms in ion traps, they can be placed closer together for a smaller physical part. Second the atoms are placed on the substrate using laser tweezers and can be put into any topology. (See picture below). This can allow an end user to create a physical configuration of atoms that is customized for their particular problem. The topology is not limited to a fixed 2D array or a heavy hex architecture. Atoms that are not needed to not have to be placed on the substrate and provide flexibility for configuring a problem.
Although neutral atom processor can be run in either a digital or analog mode, this initial release of the Aquila apparently only supports an analog mode. Analog mode uses an Analog Hamiltonian Simulation which allows a user to encode a problem into a mathematical object called a Hamiltonian. The computer can then be tuned to simulate the continuous time evolution of the quantum system under that Hamiltonian which also makes it more robust to noise. Although this mode may not be suitable for all potential quantum applications that a gate-based machine could potentially handle, it can be used for very important problems in the optimization and quantum chemistry simulation. Also, both QuEra as well as Pasqal believe that a quantum analog mode may be able to achieve quantum advantage at an earlier point that gate-based machines.
Since the analog mode as well as the Julia programming language and the Bloqade SDK may be new to some people already working with quantum processors, QuEra is interested in learning how early adopters will use the technology. Since this is the first publicly available processor of this type, QuEra wants to see how early adopters are using this type of processor and incorporate any lessons learned into future machines to make them even more useful.
For more information about the announcement and QuEra’s Aquila processor, you can access their press release announcing its availability on AWS here, a corresponding announcement from AWS here, and a page on QuEra’s website describing Aquila in more detail here.
November 1, 2022