IBM releases 1,000+ qubit processor, roadmap to error correction

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2023-12-04

Image of a series of silver-covered rectangles, each representing a processing chip.

Enlarge / The family portrait of IBM's quantum processors, with the two new arrivals (Heron and Condor) at right. (credit: IBM)

On Monday, IBM announced that it has produced the two quantum systems that its roadmap had slated for release in 2023. One of these is based on a chip named Condor, which is the largest transmon-based quantum processor yet released, with 1,121 functioning qubits. The second is based on a combination of three Heron chips, each of which has 133 qubits. Smaller chips like Heron and its successor, Flamingo, will play a critical role in IBM's quantum roadmap—which also got a major update today.

Based on the update, IBM will have error-corrected qubits working by the end of the decade, enabled by improvements to individual qubits made over several iterations of the Flamingo chip. While these systems probably won't place things like existing encryption schemes at risk, they should be able to reliably execute quantum algorithms that are far more complex than anything we can do today.

We talked with IBM's Jay Gambetta about everything the company is announcing today, including existing processors, future roadmaps, what the machines might be used for over the next few years, and the software that makes it all possible. But to understand what the company is doing, we have to back up a bit to look at where the field as a whole is moving.

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