IonQ Path to Thousands of Qubits and Quantum Supremacy

Quantum Supremacy is defined as the point when quantum computers become faster than regular computers. Quantum computers can become thousands of times more powerful when the number of qubits are doubled. In December, 2018, IonQ announced at the Q2B conference that they had loaded trapped ion systems with 79 qubits for processing and 160 qubits for storage. IonQ could achieve quantum supremacy in 2020 or 2021 with 100-200 processing trapped ion qubits. Trapped ions are atomic scale and can potentially have 99.999% qubit fidelity. IonQ has achieved 99.5% fidelity. Trapped Ions can have very long coherence times which enables far more operations than competing quantum computing technologies. IonQ has a path to thousands of qubits and to develop error correction. They will be able to have systems that could eventually perform millions of operations. There is no hardwiring so IonQ can modify its connectivity and optimize the physical layer to the desired problem. They will be able to use software to use the lasers and magnets to control the ions in the traps. They will be able to scale the traps in a modular way. In the future, they will make the quantum traps smaller and reduce the noise and increase the quality of the laser and magnetic control. Nextbigfuture interviewed Stewart Allen the Chief Product Officer of IonQ. Nextbigfuture had an email interview follow up with Stewart.

Highlights From the Nextbigfuture Interview with Stewart Allen

* IonQ systems are at room temperature
* IonQ manipulates ions with magnets and lasers and have software control on mostly FPGA chips
* IonQ are like atomic clocks, they do not have time limiting decoherence
* IonQ can invent and make any kind of quantum gate. It is a matter of software and tuning laser pulses.
* There are no errors from the fabrication of the qubits as the qubits are ions and not Josephson junctions.
* There are no idle errors, no readout errors and no qubit lifetime problem
* They could make 100-200 qubit modules and link them with optical interconnects.
* They can have modular scaling which is not possible or practical with the superconducting systems. Superconducting quantum systems need extreme cooling. This cooling limits the size of the systems
* Superconducting systems had proposed or were using access via a remote cloud computing submission of problems.
* IonQ will have quantum systems at specialized data centers and then at regular data centers. The reason for data centers is because the quantum systems generate so much data. You get more benefit by pairing them with a lot of classical computers to process the data.
* IonQ has a path to optical networking.
* IonQ has a confident path to scaling to thousands of qubits. They believe the error rates will let them get to thousands of qubits before error correction is needed.
* Error correction means you need a thousand times more qubits to get a number of useful error corrected qubits. You would need say one billion qubits to get to one million error corrected qubits.

IonQ is ramping up their improvement at a very fast rate. They are making revolutionary performance advances every day. Their strategy is to not release a commercial product now. They will ramp up improvement faster and then release when their lead and financing is such that they can support a product without slowing development.

They have done all this with only $22 million in funding from GV (Google Ventures), NEA (New Enterprise Associates) and Amazon AWS.

Scaling to thousands of qubits
SOURCES- Q2B Conference, IonQ, Youtube Written By Brian Wang

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