Quantum computers are the future of computing and IT in general. In recent years more research and experiments have been carried out on quantum technology and quantum machines. Up till now, IBM and Google were the only two companies to have made their intentions clear about building universal quantum computers. Each has started by building a quantum computer simulator. IBM’s quantum computer simulator is available online through the IBM quantum experience. While Google’s quantum computer simulator is available online through the quantum playground. Unlike D-Wave’s quantum annealing machines, universal quantum computers have a wider application range. Moore’s law has been struggling in recent year as electronic chips near fundamental smallness (atom size). It is, therefore, necessary to go beyond current technology and venture into the quantum world.
The quantum race toughens
Since November 2016, a new name “Atos” has added in the short list of companies aiming for universal quantum computers. Atos is an international leader in digital services with over 100,000 employees in 72 countries. It provides cyber security, big data, cloud and many other IT services to clients around the world. The European based company is the first in Europe to enter the race to universal quantum computers. Atos launched its “Atos quantum” program back in November 2016. The program is dedicated to its quantum technology endeavors. As a European leader in IT services it only natural to be part of what Atos’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thierry Breton calls “the quantum revolution”. Atos is thus aiming to be a major competitor to IBM and Google in the race to the universal quantum computer.
“Atos quantum” program
With the advent of Quantum computers, the IT world will undergo a radical transformation. It is thus imperative to prepare for the future so as to take full advantage of it. Quantum computers will have a profound effect on the digital service economy. Atos quantum is a strategic program set by Atos place itself on the route to quantum computing. The program was announced in November 2016. To set its Quantum computing program in motion, Atos created a dedicated R&D lab in France and recruited a team of highly skilled researchers. It also created academic partnerships with some of Europe’s best research institutes in Quantum technologies. Atos Quantum is Europe’s only response to similar programs in the US. With this program, Atos seeks to make a place for Europe in the future. Atos has long been developing its own hardware and computing infrastructures.
Quantum computers and quantum technology are relatively new. To venture into it, you need to know your way or at least how to find it. This is not an easy task given the complexity and risk involved with any failure. To put all chances on your side, it helps to have some of the best minds to guide you. This is exactly what Atos has done by creating its own international scientific advisory board. The board is made of some the greatest minds in mathematics, Physics, and Quantum technology and is chaired by Atos’ CEO Thierry Breton. The board will serve as a compass to the “Atos quantum” program in a long-term. It will also validate and oversee research partnerships and technological decisions for the program. Through academic partnerships, Atos aims to tap into a vast network of researchers and ideas.
Atos quantum computer simulator
Atos’ first step in its quantum journey was to create its own quantum computer simulator. The quantum computer simulator is known as Atos Quantum Learning Machine (Atos QLM). According to the company’s CEO, Atos QLM is the highest performing quantum computer simulator in the market. Atos claims its system very well simulates the laws of physics which are at the very heart of quantum computing. Thus, is different from some existing quantum processors which face issues like quantum noise, decoherence, manufacturing biases or performance bottlenecks. Atos QLM runs on an ultra-compact supercomputer which the company claims is the size an enterprise server. Atos QLM is made up of a programming platform, and a high-performance quantum simulator. It is dedicated to quantum software development, training, and experimentation. Researchers, students, engineers and quantum computing enthusiasts can runs experiments on the system.
Atos claims its quantum computer simulator is build to perfectly emulate a genuine quantum computer. Thus, software developed on the Atos QLM will run on the quantum emulator as well as on a future real quantum computer. Skills gained using the current simulator will useful on the future quantum system. All software and tools developed on or using the current simulator will be perfectly compatible with a future quantum computer. While waiting for real quantum machines, developers and other enthusiasts can develop their codes and algorithms on the Atos QLM without any fear of incompatibility with future machines. At peak performance, the Atos QLM can simulate up to 40 qubits. With such performance, its is possible to get a glimpse of what an actual quantum computer will be capable of.
Atos Quantum Assembler (AQASM)
One other essential component of the Atos QLM is the Atos Quantum Assembler (AQASM). AQASM is a universal quantum software development language designed in Atos’ R&D labs. Algorithms and programs developed using AQASM will run on Atos QLM as well as on future genuine quantum machine. AQASM offers a flexible development environment for developers and researchers. Ultimately, Atos aims to prepare for universal quantum computers by building and developing programs for it now. For now, AQSAM is designed and targeted towards the research community.
IBM, Google, and quantum computer simulator
It is generally agreed that a quantum system of 40-qubits and above will be enough to out perform any classical computer. IBM recently announced a 17-qubit quantum prototype which it says will be the basis for the first IBM Q commercial systems. IBM has been offering a 5-qubit quantum computer simulator through the IBM Q experience for a long time now. They also announced jointly with the 17-qubit processor a 16-qubit quantum processor that will also be made available through the IBM Q experience.
Google has a working 9-qubit quantum processor and has announced plans for a 49-qubit quantum system. According to Google, they have come a long way in dealing with errors related to quantum decoherence and are therefore ready for next big step.
Quantum technology has advanced so much so that quantum computing has become attainable objective. The possibilities offered by quantum computers in areas like cyber security, big data, cloud, and AI are enormous. With “Atos quantum”, Atos aims to understand, exploit and also prepare for risks involved with quantum technology.