IBM Quantum Computers Achieve Record Performance

At the 2019 American Physical Society March Meeting, IBM revealed that its quantum computers had achieved the “highest quantum volume to date.”

Quantum Volume is a metric developed by IBM that determines how powerful a quantum computer is. The higher the Quantum Volume, the more real-world, complex problems quantum computers can potentially solve, such as simulating chemistry, modeling financial risk, and supply chain optimization.   

A variety of factors determine Quantum Volume, including the number of qubits, connectivity, and coherence time, plus accounting for gate and measurement errors, device cross talk, and circuit software compiler efficiency. 

IBM’s recently unveiled IBM Q System One quantum computer, with a fourth-generation 20-qubit processor, has produced a Quantum Volume of 16, roughly double that of the current IBM Q 20-qubit IBM Q Network devices, which have a Quantum Volume of 8. The Company says it has doubled the power of its quantum computers annually since 2017.

According to IBM, Quantum Volume is a fundamental performance metric that measures progress in the pursuit of Quantum Advantage, the point at which quantum applications deliver a significant, practical benefit beyond what classical computers alone are capable. Potential use cases, such as precisely simulating battery-cell chemistry for electric vehicles, delivering a quadratic speedup in derivative pricing, and many others are already being investigated by IBM Q Network partners. 

To achieve Quantum Advantage in the 2020s, IBM believes that we will need to continue to at least double Quantum Volume every year. 

“Today, we are proposing a roadmap for quantum computing, as our IBM Q team is committed to reaching a point where quantum computation will provide a real impact on science and business,” said Dr. Sarah Sheldon, lead of the IBM Q Quantum Performance team, dedicated to quantum verification at IBM Research. “While we are making scientific breakthroughs and pursuing early uses cases for quantum computing, our goal is to continue to drive higher quantum volume to ultimately demonstrate quantum advantage.”