Another new entrant has entered the cloud-based quantum computing market with Xanadu offering a photonic-based versions that have 8 and 12 qubits with a 24 qubit version coming soon. Although others are working on quantum computers using photonic technologies, Xanadu is the first one to make one publicly available in the cloud.  Photonic-based quantum computers have some theoretical benefits over superconducting or ion trap versions because they can run at room temperature and do not need expensive refrigeration systems.  Also, they can be easily networked using fiber optic cables to create multi-processing clusters that can support many qubits.

Software support for the computers will be provided by Xanadu’s own open source Stawberry Fields and PennyLane software packages. Strawberry Fields is a cross-platform Python library for simulating and executing programs on quantum photonic hardware and PennyLane, is a library for quantum machine learning, quantum computing, and quantum chemistry. PennyLane is interesting because it not only supports Xanadu’s own hardware, but it provides backend support for quantum computers from IBM, Google, Rigetti, and AQT which will allow users to make comparisons between the different platforms.

Xanadu has already provided access to these computers to organizations including Creative Destruction Labs, Scotia Bank, BMO and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and they are now extending it to other enterprise clients. The company has a goal of doubling the number of qubits every six months so they could present some interesting competition to the existing players if they maintain that pace.

For more on Xanadu’s announcement, you can read their news release here and view the hardware specs for the machines 8, 12, and 24 qubit machines here.

September 2, 2020