IBM has published a roadmap for improving quantum computers based upon a “quantum volume” metric.
IBM first defined Quantum Volume in 2017 but has updated the definition. As greater understanding is gained about quantum computers then the Quantum Volume metric has to be updated.
A quantum computer’s performance depends on many factors
that can make assessing its power challenging. Quantum computing systems with high-fidelity operations, high connectivity, large calibrated gate sets, and circuit rewriting toolchains are expected to have higher quantum volumes. The quantum volume is a pragmatic way to measure and compare progress toward improved system-wide gate error rates for near-term quantum computation and error-correction experiments.
Quantum volume is an architecture-neutral metric. It measures the useful amount of quantum computing done by a device in space and time.
Current IBM Q 20-qubit premium devices has a Quantum Volume of 8. The results on the IBM Q System One indicate its performance is just over the threshold for 16. IBM roadmap is to double quantum volume every year.
IBM wants to improve error rates 100 times from 1% to 0.01%. They plan to do this by increasing coherence times from 0.5 milliseconds to 1-5 milliseconds.
IBM is studying the fundamental physics of devices and have measured individual superconducting transmon qubit T1 relaxation times as long as 0.5 milliseconds (500 microseconds, quality factor of 15 million), revealing no fundamental materials ceiling to these devices yet.
IBM projects reaching quantum dominance where quantum computers become more powerful than regular computers in the 2020s. This roadmap is not including error correction but improved qubits.
It is believed that eventually error correction will be needed for larger quantum computers. However, it could take 1000 times as many qubits to implement full error correction. This would cause up to a ten-year plateau in quantum computer performance when the shift to error-corrected systems is made. The hope is to achieve quantum dominance before there is a need to shift to error-corrected quantum systems.
SOURCES – IBM Research, IBM Channel on Youtube, Arxiv Papers by IBM
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