Quantum Computing at JSC
Quantum computing is a new, innovative way of computing with potential applications in quantum simulations in chemistry, materials science, optimization, and machine learning. Huge challenges and opportunities exist in developing algorithms and tools for quantum computing devices to solve very hard and hitherto intractable computational problems in science and industry. Recently, the Jülich Supercomputing Centre has strengthened its engagement in quantum computing by signing several contracts with leading companies and by launching the JUNIQ infrastructure.
Launch of JUNIQ and Contract with D-WAVE Systems
"We are counting on quantum computers": this was the motto of the event on 25 October, where JUNIQ, the new "Jülich UNified Infrastructure for Quantum computing" was put into operation. The go-ahead was given with the official signing of a user contract for a quantum annealer from the Canadian quantum computer manufacturer D Wave Systems, making Forschungszentrum Jülich the first D-Wave Leap™ cloud-based quantum site in Europe. The event was opened with a welcoming address by Annette Storsberg, State Secretary from the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Culture and Science, and a message from Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The state government and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research are supporting the estab-lishment of JUNIQ with € 5 million in funding from each.
JUNIQ will be the unified portal to a number of different quantum computers – accessible via the cloud for German and European users. JUNIQ will thus offer quantum computing services similar to those that have long been available for Jülich’s supercomputers: Under the guidance of experts, researchers will be able to use quantum computers – from experimental systems and prototypes to first production systems – and develop algorithms and application programs for them.
D-Wave’s quantum system – a so-called quantum annealer – will be accessible via Leap™, the company’s quantum cloud service. Jülich will be the site of the first European installation of D-Wave’s Leap quantum cloud service. As part of the agreement, Jülich will also benefit from the upcoming release of Advantage™, D-Wave’s next-generation quantum system with a new, highly connected Pegasus topology, lower-noise, and an increased qubit count.
Research Partnership with Google
Back in July, Forschungszentrum Jülich announced another research partnership in quantum computing with Google to advance this new disruptive computing technology. Google has years of experience in the development of quantum computers and quantum algorithms, which, alongside quantum materials research, are key research foci at Forschungszentrum Jülich, too.
The partnership includes joint research and expert training in the fields of quantum computing hardware and quantum algorithms. For JSC, the latter is a key component in the research collaboration. Researchers from Google and from the research group Quantum Information Processing of Prof. Kristel Michielsen will cooperate in performing simulations on supercomputers at JSC and in experimenting with Google's quantum processors for benchmarking purposes. For this research, the Jülich Universal Quantum Computer Simulator (JUQCS), developed in international collaboration and used in 2018 to set the world record for simulating gate-based quantum computers at 48 qubits, will be used. The collaboration has already commenced. For the containerization of JUQCS, Kristel Michielsen received a Google Faculty Research Award in 2018.
Contribution to Google’s Demonstration of Quantum Supremacy
This collaboration is already bearing fruit: in October, Google and collaborators, including Forschungszentrum Jülich, achieved a milestone in quantum computing called quantum supremacy, as the researchers claim in the renowned journal “Nature” (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1666-5). The term marks the moment when a quantum computer, for the first time, outperforms state-of-the-art conventional computers in a specific task. While the Google quantum processor takes about 200 seconds, the world’s fastest supercomputers would need approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task. Researchers from Kristel Michielsen’s group took part in verifying and benchmarking the quantum processor with simulations carried out on the Jülich supercomputer JUWELS.