Honeywell has announced the creation of the “world’s highest-performing quantum computing system.” With a quantum volume of 64, the Honeywell quantum computer is twice as powerful as the next alternative in the industry.
“What makes our quantum computers so powerful is having the highest quality qubits, with the lowest error rates. This is a combination of using identical, fully connected qubits and precision control,” said Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions.
The core of the Honeywell system is an ultra-high vacuum chamber, which is a stainless steel sphere, about the size of a basketball. It has portals to allow in laser light, and from which the air has been pumped out such that it contains a vacuum of five times less particles than outer space. The chamber is cryogenically cooled to the temperature slightly above absolute zero (-262.7 °C).
Inside the chamber are ion traps, each of which is the size of a coin of 25 US cents (24.3 mm). The ion plays the role of a qubit, and it is controlled by a laser, which is aimed at trapping the charge from outside the sphere through a small glass window. Within the chamber, electric fields levitate individual atoms 0.1 mm above an ion trap, a silicon chip covered in gold about the size of a quarter. Scientists shine lasers at these positively charged atoms to perform quantum operations.
“For the context of how small an atom is, if you cup your hands into a sphere, you’re holding about a trillion trillion atoms,” Tony said.
According to the company, the main focus while building the quantum computer was on eliminating the errors present within the system on smaller numbers of qubits and then working to scale up the number of qubits. Low errors in the quantum operations expand the quantum volume, ultimately increasing the capability of quantum computing.
The Honeywell quantum computer has already been tested by JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest financial institutions, which has its own quantum experts. In addition to JPMorgan Chase, other customers whose names the company does not disclose are testing the new Honeywell system. According to Honeywell, these are companies and organizations that are related to chemistry, materials science, machine learning, and optimization. Later this year, Honeywell, along with Microsoft, will provide access to the new quantum computer through the Microsoft Azure cloud.