LRZ Embraces Emerging Technologies with the Bavarian Quantum Computing Exchange
For certain tasks, they promise to solve problems much faster than current supercomputers: quantum computers are a model for the future of information technology. With its Q System One, IBM recently presented its first model, but it is far from ready for the market. Nevertheless, the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (Leibniz-Rechenzentrum, short LRZ) is driving this future topic forward: the Bavarian Quantum Computer Exchange will combine knowledge, research, and activities in academia and industry to advance this emerging technology in Bavaria. The group met for the first time in Garching at the end of July 2019.
"Bavaria is going to play a leading role in quantum technology, and there are still too many unanswered questions about quantum technology,” says Laura Schultz, head of strategic development at LRZ and founder of the group. “In order to answer them, we are now bringing together a wide range of specialists in the working group." As a positive side effect, the work on and with the supercomputer SuperMUC-NG will also benefit from the Quantum Computer User Group, because many challenges of quantum technology are similar to those of supercomputers.
Concerted action from research and industry
At the kick-off event in July, representatives of the Quantum Computer Exchange from the Technical University of Munich, the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, the Bundeswehr University, Munich, and the Deggendorf Institute of Technology met with specialists from companies such as IBM, Intel, and BMW, who are also working on quantum technologies. In the future, the group will meet once a month, every second Wednesday. Researchers, students, and specialists from industry who have an interest in quantum computing or are working with the emerging technology are welcome to attend.
"The central point now is information and knowledge exchange in order to accelerate research and improve technology," explains Luigi Iapichino, team leader for LRZ’s Quantum Computing group. "We discuss hardware and software solutions for quantum computers and plan workshops, trainings and lectures around the technology.” At the first meeting, participants synchronized their knowledge about tasks and projects and opened mailing lists and other communication channels.
Future computing power through quantum technology
Similar to the supercomputers available today, quantum computers provide the computing capacities that contribute to the development of artificial intelligence or other data-intensive tasks.
SuperMUC-NG, one of the ten fastest supercomputers in the world (as of the June 2019 Top500 list), still works on the basis of bits and the binary system of 0s and 1s and creates billions of calculations in a very short tim. Quantum computers, on the other hand, have a more open-ended path to arriving at a solution—they not only use 0s and 1s, but also their permutations 10 and 11. As a result, they can take several calculation paths in parallel. This makes them faster in certain tasks, especially when it comes to processing data.
Once quantum hardware is more widely available, enthusiasts hope that special algorithms will be able to organize complex tasks and confusing data silos faster than traditional ones.
Looking for students, researchers and supporters
Despite advancements in the field, the computing power of quantum computers is still volatile, unreliable, and difficult to standardize. Researchers in industry and academia are testing optical and mechanical methods to make them reliable. Nevertheless, computer scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich are already working on the first software programs and libraries. The Quantum Computer User Group at LRZ will also devote itself to hardware and software issues and further promote corresponding projects. Above all else, LRZ is dedicated to enabling future users of quantum computers to research and work with them as quickly and efficiently as possible.