12h | Alan Burkitt-Gray
The era of faster, more powerful computers and data centres has come a step closer with the injection of US$20 million into a start-up company that has developed an operating system for quantum computers.
Cambridge-based Riverlane is using the money to build its operating system, Deltaflow, and to expand to the US, Europe and elsewhere.
Steve Brierley, founder and CEO of Riverlane, said: “For a quantum ecosystem to thrive, we urgently need an operating system. An operating system makes quantum computers useful — it allows programs and applications to run on many different machines. Riverlane aims to make our operating system Deltaflow a global standard.”
One of the company’s backers is Amadeus Capital Partners, founded by Hermann Hauser, the entrepreneur behind what became ARM, the Cambridge chip designer bought by SoftBank in 2016 for $31 billion and sold on to Nvidia last year for $40 billion, though the UK markets regulator is now investigating the latter deal.
Amelia Armour, partner at Amadeus Capital Partners, said: “There are many ways to build a quantum computer and what is exciting about the Deltaflow operating system is that it is portable across all the different types of hardware.”
Amadeus will continue its investment in Riverlane, alongside technology venture capital fund Draper Esprit, and supported by existing investors, Cambridge Innovation Capital and the University of Cambridge (pictured).
Riverlane said that it has signed up 20% of the world’s quantum hardware manufacturers to use Deltaflow. “This step change in computing power will have an enormous impact on a variety of industries, for example the pharmaceuticals and materials industry,” said the company. “Over the next five years we will continue to see rapid progress in quantum hardware development and, as the quantum industry develops, it’s vital that software is built on a solid foundation.”
Stuart Chapman, director at Draper Esprit, commented: “Riverlane is showing what is already possible as quantum emerges into the commercial world and we’re excited by the traction they already display. Hardware manufacturers are already seeing the benefit from Deltaflow.”
The operating system is still new: Riverlane led a coinsortium in only May 2020 to build the system and in September announced successful trials with hardware company Oxford Ionics, which uses a technique called trapped ions.
Riverlane released the first version of Deltaflow OS in December, designed to enable quantum hardware companies as well as algorithm and app developers to accelerate their research by making collaboration easier and reduce downtime in labs.
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