This week, with a measured quantum volume of 512, Honeywell’s System Model H1 became the highest performing quantum computing system in the world in terms of measured performance. The company has set several previous quantum volume records. In June 2020, Honeywell announced its first quantum computer, the Model HO machine, that had a record quantum volume of 64. The next was in September 2020 with Honeywell’s announcement of a new H1 Model that doubled its quantum volume from 64 to a new record high of 128.
What is Quantum Volume?
IBM developed quantum volume in 2017 as a hardware-agnostic method to measure gate-based quantum computers’ performance and assist in the ongoing development of quantum computers.
Quantum volume is one of several quantum benchmarking protocols. Choosing a protocol depends on if you are interested in benchmarking all or part of a quantum computer. There are protocols for testing low-level quantum devices for fabrication or for testing subsystems like randomized benchmarking or holistic protocols like quantum volume. A holistic protocol measures a quantum system’s overall performance.
The power of a quantum computer cannot be increased by adding qubits alone. Its performance is affected by the overall interaction of such things as the number of qubits, connectivity of qubits, gate fidelity, cross talk, circuit compiler efficiency, and other features that affect a quantum computer. Quantum volume considers all those factors.
Determining quantum volume is a complex operation involving probability and running a specific quantum circuit protocol. Simplistically, certain quantum circuits must be optimized, then run numerous times to determine if a high percentage of the outcomes are above a specified level. In Honeywell’s case, it ran 300 circuits 20 times apiece to determine that the Model H1 had a quantum volume of 512. While the process is complex, one of QV’s benefits is interpreting the final raw quantum volume number is simple – the larger the QV, the more powerful the machine. More information about the new 512 quantum volume test results is on Honeywell’s website.
About the Honeywell Model H1
Many technologies are used for quantum qubits. The Honeywell Model H1 uses ytterbium ions for computations and barium ions for cooling. It pioneered the use of QCCD, an advanced trapped-ion architecture that allows for arbitrary movement of ions and parallel gate operations across multiple zones. According to Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions, QCCD is an architecture robust enough to support future generations of Honeywell quantum processors.
It is also important that QCCD can also support future operations necessary to implement quantum error correction. Error correction is critical to the future of all quantum computing systems.
The Model H1 with ten fully connected qubits has demonstrated high fidelity operations, low crosstalk, and it features mid-circuit measurements and conditional feedback. High two-qubit gate fidelity allows more complex problems to be encoded and solved with greater accuracy. The feedback that I have received from third-party researchers using the Model H1 for work with BMW and Samsung has underscored the quality and power of the Model H1.
1.) IBM and Honeywell are currently the only two companies that regularly publish quantum volume measurement results. I suspect that other companies also run QV but, for some reason, have chosen not to publish measured results.
2.) Honeywell previously stated it was capable of increasing quantum volume by 10x each year. Given its architecture’s flexibility, I expect Honeywell to continue to make steady progress and announce increasingly higher quantum volume numbers. It only uses ten ions now, but there is still plenty of room in the Model H1 linear QCCD architecture. It should be able to accommodate 40-50 total ions.
3.) Honeywell’s long-term roadmap plans on moving from a linear topology to increasingly complex grid topologies in the Model H3, H4, and H5 grids. A linear topology trap is relatively easy to build, and its ions are easy to manipulate. Shuttling and performing ion operations in a grid topology is more complicated. Shuttling operations require removing ions from a trap, shuttling them along paths with the additional complexity of turning at junctions, and then merging them.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.
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