Moving forward: quantum strengthens supercomputing

With the help of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) is acquiring a quantum computer from IQM for research purposes, integrating it into its supercomputers and developing it to market maturity with partners.


Bringing quantum computing into everyday research and developing it further: The Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BAdW) is purchasing a first quantum computer from the Finnish-German start-up IQM. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding this purchase with more than 40 million euros. The goal of the project called "Quantum Computer Extension for Exascale HPC" or "Q-Exa" is to further develop the new computing technology, to accelerate High Performance Computing (HPC) with it and to build up know-how for future computer and information technologies: "With the Q-Exa project, we are opening a new promising chapter on our way to quantum computing 'Made in Germany'," says Federal Minister Anja Karlizcek. "The integration of a quantum computer into the infrastructures of the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre holds enormous potential for science and industry, Q-Exa contributes to making quantum computing tangibly useful for users from science and industry."

Stabilising future technology

For Q-Exa, a 20-qubit computer based on superconducting circuits will be coupled with HPC resources for the first time in Germany, because supercomputers are reaching performance limits that can hardly be overcome with existing processor technology or artificial intelligence. On the way to more powerful exascale systems, with which the growing amount of research data can be analysed and processed, hopes also rest on quantum computers, which are now overcoming the initial experimental stage. They not only calculate on the basis of 0 and 1, but their smallest computing units, the qubits, also assume additional states and are thus supposed to be able to process larger volumes of data in a shorter time. However, they are still error prone, and basic programming environments and software for control and monitoring are still lacking. In the interplay of supercomputing and quantum computing, on the one hand the new technology should become suitable for everyday use and controllable for science and industry, and on the other hand HPC can achieve significantly higher performance levels: "Q-Exa is a key project for our activities in the LRZ Quantum Integration Centre (QIC) and within the Munich Quantum Valley (MQV). By working with this highly competitive consortium, we will be able to set European standards that are also globally competitive," says Prof. Dr. Dieter Kranzlmüller, Director of the LRZ. "Integrating quantum computing into supercomputers, especially at the exascale level, will accelerate research and open up new opportunities for science and industry."

Optimising and building know-how together

The strategy of Q-Exa is co-design and cooperation: the 20-qubit quantum computer is supplied by the Finnish-German start-up IQM, with which the LRZ is already cooperating in other research projects. Also involved are Atos, a provider of HPC and quantum systems, and HQS Quantum Simulations, one of the leading providers of quantum algorithms for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Together with these partners, the LRZ will optimise both quantum and supercomputing. "Combining the world's most powerful computers with the potential of quantum computing will deliver the next big leap in supercomputing," Kranzlmüller continues. "Within the framework of Q-Exa, as a national supercomputing centre, we can not only significantly influence HPC, but also help shape the future technology of quantum computing - an exciting challenge."