Since quantum computing hardware is incredibly complex and requires a carefully-controlled, super-cooled environment to operate properly, it is not easily mass produced. There are a variety of hardware and software components in a quantum computing system, and all the components must work together with extreme precision and accuracy for the computer to function.
Quantum computing-as-a-service (QCaaS) gives enterprises and researchers access to quantum computing capabilities via the cloud, so they can run sophisticated algorithms remotely without direct access to the hardware. The QCaaS model could potentially allow users from all over the world to tackle various computational challenges from cybersecurity to supply-chain optimization.
High-level QCaaS architecture. Image used courtesy of Oxford Quantum Circuits (Twitter)
Several large companies and startups have invested heavily in R&D to bring the sufficient computing power of QCaaS to practical solutions. One such startup is Oxford Quantum Circuits, or OQC, which recently raised $47 million through a Series A fundraising round.
Amazon Taps Into the “Lucy” Quantum Computer
Earlier this year, OQC made its 8-qubit Lucy quantum computer available via Amazon Braket, a cloud-based quantum computing service that allows users to run both quantum and classical workloads. Lucy is named after Lucy Mensing, a pioneer in quantum mechanics and physics. OQC’s Lucy machine is the first quantum computer located in Europe that is available on Amazon Braket.
A rendering of OQC’S 8-qubits processor Lucy. Image used courtesy of Oxford Quantum Circuits
This service allows European users to shorten data transfer times when running programs on Lucy. It also ensures that European government agencies and companies that need to meet data-residency requirements can use Lucy instead of an overseas provider.
Flowchart showing Amazon Braket’s development flow. Image used courtesy of AWS
Oxford Quantum Circuits’ Ace In the Hole: Coaxmon
Even though quantum computers larger than 8 qubits exist today, Lucy uses a 3D architecture called Coaxmon that makes it highly scalable. In traditional 2D quantum computing topologies, a significant amount of control wiring connects each chip to a qubit. This can degrade the quality of each qubit, which in turn affects the performance of the quantum computer.
In the Coaxmon 3D design, key quantum circuitry is moved off-chip for increased simplicity and scalability. This allows quantum algorithms to scale with multiple qubits, avoiding many of the problems associated with cross-talk due to qubit layout. Additionally, OQC’s built-in quantum compiler is designed to optimize the number of gates a compiled quantum program uses. The fewer quantum gates used to execute the program, the better the performance of the quantum computer.
Coaxmon uses a 3D quantum computing architecture. Image (modified) used courtesy of Krantz NanoArt and Oxford Quantum Circuits
Through Coaxmon is private technology, OQC aims to make the architecture available to agencies and enterprises. As data loads increase, QCaaS solutions, such as those offered by OQC, could play a critical role in allowing organizations to leverage the benefits of quantum computing to solve complex challenges.