Honeywell: the time to build a strategy leveraging quantum computing is now
With a quantum volume of 128, Honeywell is one of the major players in the field of quantum computing, aiming to bring this technology to its full potential and harness its advantage in solving problems that span multiple industries.
Along with rampant developments in the field of quantum technology, the need for benchmarking and congruent measurements across this field has become imperative. Simply measuring the number of qubits is not relevant for the performance and efficacy of a quantum computer, together with a protocol for measuring it on current devices.
Quantum volume – the current metric in the quantum computing industry
Based on this metric (which takes into consideration not only the number of qubits but also the connectivity between them and the error rates), Honeywell announced in June 2020 that it reached a quantum volume of 64 on a 6-qubit quantum device. Then, in August 2020, IBM announced a quantum volume of 64 on a 27-qubit system.
In an interview with Supertrends, Justin Ging, Chief Commercial Officer for Honeywell Quantum Solutions, mentioned that the main factors leading to this performance are the technology chosen to build their qubits (trapped ion), their industry-leading gate fidelities and their unique QCCD (quantum charge coupled device) system architecture. Based on this milestone (quantum volume of 64), Honeywell is targeting a 10x improvement in quantum volume year-over-year for the next five years. The first step in this direction has already been made, with Honeywell reaching a quantum volume of 128 in September 2020.
What does this mean in terms of industry applicability?
Honeywell envisions that quantum computing will have a far-reaching impact on multiple industries; ranging from classical optimization problems (e.g., the travelling salesman and knapsack problems) that are intractable at large scales, to more efficient training of large-scale machine learning models and high-fidelity simulations of complex chemical reactions and compounds.
“From aircraft networks to postal routes, quantum computing has the potential to change it all for the better.”
This way, companies that currently rely on heuristics and simplistic models can have access to better solutions for the problems they are facing.
Currently, Honeywell’s quantum computer can be accessed via a cloud computing service. The company set up an API that customers can use to plug directly into the system. They also partnered with Microsoft to offer their system through the Azure Quantum platform.
What will a world with quantum computers look like?
Honeywell declared that quantum computing should not be seen as a panacea or as a replacement for classical computers. The vision for the future is that both technologies will coexist in a hybrid computing environment, with upcoming computing architectures that will offer access to QPUs (quantum processing units).
So far, quantum devices haven’t yet reached the so-called “quantum advantage” (the capacity to solve problems that are impossible to be solved on a classical device). Companies, research centers and universities are still experimenting with different technologies and are testing multiple problems in order to find the means and the areas where quantum computers will make a significant difference. However, since working with quantum computers involves a new way of defining and analyzing problems, Ging mentions that it is important for companies to begin preparing now, in order to take advantage of the technology when it becomes available.
“The time to build a robust strategy leveraging quantum computing is now. Those companies that are currently interacting with and exploring the technology will be the ones disrupting their respective industries in the future.”
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Andrew W. Cross et al., “Validating Quantum Computers Using Randomized Model Circuits,” Physical Review A 100, no. 3 (September 20, 2019): 032328, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevA.100.032328.
“IBM Delivers Its Highest Quantum Volume to Date, Expanding the Computational Power of Its IBM Cloud-Accessible Quantum Computers,” IBM News Room, September 23, 2020, https://newsroom.ibm.com/2020-08-20-IBM-Delivers-Its-Highest-Quantum-Volume-to-Date-Expanding-the-Computational-Power-of-its-IBM-Cloud-Accessible-Quantum-Computers.
“Achieving Quantum Volume 128 on the Honeywell Quantum Computer,” accessed October 1, 2020, https://www.honeywell.com/content/honeywell/us/en/newsroom/news/2020/09/achieving-quantum-volume-128-on-the-honeywell-quantum-computer.html.