IBM unveils Osprey, its most powerful quantum processor

9 Nov 2022

Dr Darío Gil, senior VP and director of research at IBM. Image: Ryan Lavine/IBM (CC BY-ND 2.0)

According to IBM, the number of classical bits needed to represent a state on Osprey ‘far exceeds’ the total number of atoms in the known universe.

IBM has unveiled its most powerful quantum processor ever to “tackle previously unsolvable problems”.

The new IBM Osprey processor has a qubit, or quantum bit, count of 433. This is greater than any IBM quantum processor and is more than triple the 127 qubits on the IBM Eagle processor unveiled last year.

It has the potential to run complex quantum computations well beyond the computational capability of any classical computer. IBM said the number of classical bits necessary to represent a state on Osprey “far exceeds” the total number of atoms in the known universe.

“The new 433 qubit Osprey processor brings us a step closer to the point where quantum computers will be used to tackle previously unsolvable problems,” said Dr Darío Gil, senior vice-president and director of research at IBM.

“We are continuously scaling up and advancing our quantum technology across hardware, software and classical integration to meet the biggest challenges of our time, in conjunction with our partners and clients worldwide. This work will prove foundational for the coming era of quantum-centric supercomputing.”

Osprey was unveiled at the annual IBM Quantum Summit today (9 November), where a host of other developments in the quantum space were announced.

These include new software updates to quantum processes to reduce noise in quantum computers and make them easier to use in workflows. IBM also announced a collaboration with Vodafone to explore quantum-safe cybersecurity.

2023 ‘a major inflection point’ for quantum

Quantum computing is an emerging field of technology research that could have widespread implications for areas including encryption, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, financial modelling and even the discovery of new electronic materials.

Jay Gambetta, an IBM fellow and vice-president of IBM Quantum, said that Osprey is its “largest quantum processor to date”. It comes as IBM has declared 2023 as “a major inflection point” in quantum computing.

“We’re ready to begin realising the quantum-centric supercomputer, a modular computing architecture which enables scaling, combining quantum communication and computation to increase computational capacity while employing hybrid cloud middleware to seamlessly integrate quantum and classical workflow,” Gambetta explained.

IBM Osprey open will its many layers showing in a black background.

IBM Osprey. Image: Connie Zhou/IBM (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Like Eagle, Gambetta said Osprey includes multi-level wiring to provide flexibility for signal routing and device layout, while also adding integrated filtering to reduce noise and improve stability.

Other hardware announcements made at the IBM summit include the validation of a new high-density control signal delivery with flex wiring to provide a 70pc increase in wire density and a reduction in price per line.

“We also debuted our third-generation control system, which will soon be capable of controlling 400 qubits in a single rack at an even lower price point than the previous generations,” Gambetta added.

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Dr Darío Gil holding Osprey. Image: Ryan Lavine/IBM (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic