IBM to open first quantum datacenter in Europe

IBM Quantum Computer
Sheila Zabeu -

June 14, 2023

IBM has announced that it plans to open its first quantum datacenter in Europe to facilitate access to this type of advanced computing for businesses, research institutions and government agencies. The datacenter is expected to be operational by 2024 at IBM’s facility in Ehningen, Germany. The facility will be IBM’s second quantum datacenter and quantum cloud region after Poughkeepsie in New York.

Users in Europe and other parts of the world will be able to use the data centre’s services for cloud-based quantum computing research and exploratory activities. “Europe has some of the most advanced users of quantum computers in the world, and interest is only increasing with the era of utility-scale quantum processors,” says Jay Gambetta, vice president of IBM Quantum. “The planned quantum data centre and associated cloud region will give European users a new option as they seek to harness the power of quantum computing in an effort to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems,” he adds.

IBM considers cloud-based quantum computing to be an entirely new computing paradigm, with some practical issues still to be resolved. According to the company, routing classical and quantum computing workflows efficiently is not an easy task, as computing resources and data spread across the world are governed by different laws and data privacy considerations.

Source: IBM

Therefore, along with the new datacenter, IBM will offer a software integration layer to overcome these challenges, consisting of a multichannel scheduling tool, i.e. a layer to manage access and resources in different regions and channels. The channel could be a partner or institution that will manage user access or data and combine quantum computing power with in-house or third-party classical resources to develop solutions.

This scheduling tool will allow IBM Quantum systems to be used in both the US quantum data centre and the new European quantum data centre, regardless of where the application code is, IBM explains its blog.

The IBM Quantum Network currently has more than 60 organizations in Europe accessing quantum hardware and software through the cloud, including Bosch and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). These customers explore potential uses of quantum computing, such as in the fields of materials science, sustainability, and finance.

Ambitious plans

The new European quantum datacenter is expected to host several IBM quantum computing systems, each with processors of more than 100 qubits. However, IBM has far more ambitious plans for the not too distant future. The goal is to have a 100,000-qubit system by 2033.

For this feat, IBM is sponsoring and establishing research partnerships with the University of Tokyo and the University of Chicago to develop a system that can solve problems that even today’s most advanced supercomputers are unable to solve.

The number 100,000 qubits is not for nothing. During the IBM Quantum Summit 2022, the company introduced the 433-qubit IBM Quantum Osprey processor and also ways to take quantum processors to thousands of qubits. However, beyond that limit, the path is no longer so clear, according to IBM, because of a combination of challenges in the areas of cost, chip performance, power and supply chain, to name a few.

According to the company, more basic research in physics, engineering and computer science needs to be done. Hence the need to compose cooperation initiatives. IBM presented a route on how it plans to extend the potential of quantum computers, The four main areas requiring further advances are quantum communication, specific middleware for quantum systems, quantum algorithms & error correction, and components with the respective supply chain.

The University of Tokyo will lead efforts to identify, scale and demonstrate quantum algorithms. It will also develop the supply chain around new components, such as cryogenics and electronic control.

The University of Chicago will lead efforts to bring quantum communication into the quantum computing space, with classical and quantum parallelisation and quantum networks. It will also help improve middleware for quantum systems, adding serverless quantum execution, circuit knitting techniques, and physics-based error resilience.

IBM recognizes the great challenge of developing a 100,000 qubit system, but believes that the partnership with both universities will allow it to introduce a 100,000 qubit processor by 2033.