From Science 
to System

IBM Q employs quantum science, systems engineering and industrial design to make quantum computing more reliable and stable.

The Challenge

IBM is enabling universal quantum computers to operate outside the research lab for the first time.

Quantum computers are a radically different kind of computer based on the laws of quantum mechanics. IBM Q is building quantum computers with the potential to solve some problems beyond the reach of classical computers in such areas as financial services, pharmaceuticals and artificial intelligence. People today can access real quantum computers through the cloud to conduct research and explore new problems.

Today’s quantum computers include thousands of parts that work together to harness qubits to perform quantum computations. Qubits themselves are incredibly powerful, yet delicate. They quickly lose their special quantum properties, typically within 100 microseconds (for state-of-the-art superconducting qubits), due in part to electromagnetic environment, vibrations, and temperature fluctuations.

To make quantum computers more reliable and stable, IBM Q designed and built the world’s first integrated quantum computing system for commercial use: IBM Q System One.

IBM Q System One enables universal approximate superconducting quantum computers to operate beyond the confines of the research lab for the first time.

The Design

The system’s design clarifies complexity with a captivating aesthetic.

IBM Q System One’s eye-catching design is functional in the way it enables the quantum system to perform its sensitive, precise operations. And it’s in keeping with the company’s commitment to modern design—made famous by Thomas Watson Jr.’s declaration, “Good design is good business.”

To design IBM Q System One, IBM assembled a world-class team of industrial designers, architects, and manufacturers to work alongside IBM Research scientists and systems engineers, including UK industrial and interior design studios Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio, and Goppion, a Milan-based manufacturer of high-end museum display cases that protect some of the world’s most precious art including the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

Their design includes a nine-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass forming a sealed, airtight enclosure. Its glass door opens effortlessly, simplifying the system’s maintenance and upgrade process while minimizing downtime –making the IBM Q System One uniquely suited for reliable commercial use.

A series of independent aluminum and steel frames unify, but also decouple the system’s cryostat, control electronics, and exterior casing, helping to isolate the system components for improved performance.

The Test    

The System is tested for the first time over two weeks in Italy.

The team assembled the system for mechanical testing at Goppion's headquarters in Milan over the course of two weeks in the summer of 2018. It ran like a NASA test launch, with the team testing maintenance, reliability, and performance.

Assembling the IBM Q System One metal support frame at the Goppion headquarters in Milan.

Assembling and testing a glass enclosure built using half-inch thick borosilicate glass.

Assembling a hinged glass door engineered to simplify system maintenance and upgrades.

Testing a hinged door attached to the stunning 9x9-foot glass cube.

IBM, Map, and Goppion team members with IBM Q System One following the two-week assembly.

The Result

IBM Q System One brings a systems approach to quantum computing.

Much as classical computers combine multiple components into an integrated architecture optimized to work together, IBM is applying the same approach to quantum computing with the first fully integrated universal quantum computing system. IBM Q System One is comprised of a number of custom components that work together to serve as the most advanced cloud-based quantum computing program available, including:

1.

Quantum hardware designed to be stable and auto-calibrated to give repeatable and predictable high-quality qubits.


2.

Cryogenic engineering that delivers a continuous cold and isolated quantum environment.


3.

High precision electronics in compact form factors to tightly control large numbers of qubits.


4.

Quantum firmware to manage the system health and enable system upgrades without downtime for users.


5.

Classical computation to provide secure cloud access and hybrid execution of quantum algorithms.


In the second half of 2019, IBM will open the IBM Q Quantum Computation Center, located in Poughkeepsie, New York to expand IBM’s commercial quantum computing program, which already includes systems at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York.

This new center will house some of the world’s most advanced cloud-based quantum computing systems, which will be accessible to members of the IBM Q Network, a worldwide community of leading Fortune 500 companies, startups, academic institutions, and national research labs working with IBM to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for business and science.

IBM Q is an industry first initiative to build universal quantum computers for business and science.

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