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A recent study led by Princeton University researchers, in collaboration with University of Maryland and IBM, explored the architectural design of quantum computers (QC). In a paper presented at the 2019 ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Computer Architecture, the researchers performed the largest real-system evaluation of quantum computers to date, using seven quantum computers from IBM, Rigetti and the University of Maryland.
The researchers developed new software to compile from QC applications to hardware prototypes; on error-prone early-stage QC hardware, this compiler delivers up to 28 times improvement in program correctness rates compared to industry compilers. The study stresses the importance of careful instruction set design, rich connectivity topologies and the need to co-design applications and hardware to achieve the best performance from fledgling QC systems.
Quantum - Computing - Paradigm - Computation - Applications
Quantum computing is a fundamentally new paradigm of computation with promising applications in drug design, fertilizer design, artificial intelligence and secure information processing, among other things. From its inception in the 1980s as a purely theoretical endeavor, quantum computing has now progressed to the point that small prototype systems are available for experiments. Companies such as IBM and Rigetti now offer free access to their five- to 16-qubit systems over the cloud. These systems can be programmed using sequences of instructions, also known as operations or gates.
Analogous to the early days of classical computing involving systems built with vacuum tubes relay circuits or transistors, QC systems today can be built out of several hardware technologies. Front-runner technologies include superconducting qubits and the trapped ion qubits, with other candidate technologies also of considerable interest. However, unlike classical binary computers, QC technologies are so different that even the fundamental gate operations that can be performed on a single qubit differ widely. Selecting the most appropriate gate operations to be exposed for software use is an important QC design decision.
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