Engineers first combined a conventional supercomputer with a quantum one: how it works (video)

Flawed artificial diamonds allow qubits to work even at room temperature, making calculations easier and more accessible.

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Engineers from the Australian research center Pawsey have combined a semiconductor supercomputer with a quantum accelerator for the first time in history. Details of the project were revealed on the official website.

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Specialists installed on their new Setonix supercomputer from HPE (capacity – 2.1 PFlops, 341st place in the Top 500) a quantum accelerator developed by the German-Australian startup Quantum Brilliance. The facility is currently operating in Perth, Western Australia.

The operation of the Quantum Brilliance accelerator is based on artificial diamonds with many small defects, the so-called NV centers, which appear when a carbon atom is removed from a lattice site and the resulting vacancy is bound to a nitrogen atom. As a result, qubit particles are formed, which allow quantum computing to be carried out at room temperature – usually quantum computers can only work at very low temperatures, otherwise the encoded information is lost.
Diamond with special defects for a quantum accelerator
Photo: Screenshot

It is worth noting that Quantum Brilliance systems offer only rack-mounted solutions that can accommodate up to five qubits, so you cannot count on a quick solution to super-complex problems. However, the ability to work in room conditions will allow developers to experience and demonstrate the possibilities of hybrid classical and quantum computing for the first time. The team will look for diagnostic and engineering solutions to improve the performance and maintenance of the Setonix-based system.
Quantum Brilliance, Setonix
Installing the Quantum Brilliance accelerator in the Setonix supercomputer
Photo: Screenshot

“The installation of the Quantum Brilliance quantum accelerator is an important step and a prime example of meeting Australia’s goals of accelerating quantum research and achieving real value. Completing the installation of the quantum system has been a priority once Covid-related restrictions were lifted,” said Mark Stickells, chief executive of Pawsey.

He added that the integration of the accelerator into a classical supercomputer will increase the power of quantum computing to an unprecedented level. In addition, the project will help researchers run real algorithms and learn how two different systems can work together. Enterprises will soon be able to use Setonix to explore new quantum codes for hybrid computing.

As Quantum Brilliance CEO Andrew Horsley commented, installing the accelerator was an important step for the company, which aims to make quantum technology more unpretentious, flexible and smaller in size. The tests will help scientists make breakthroughs in the design and manufacture of computers for high performance computing.

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