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Dec. 19, 2023

Project for integrated use of quantum computers and supercomputers

RIKEN has been selected, in partnership with SoftBank Corp. to carry out a project for the "Research and Development of quantum-supercomputers hybrid platform for exploration of uncharted computable capabilities" as part of the Research and Development Project of the Enhanced Infrastructures for Post-5G Information and Communication Systems by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In cooperation with SoftBank Corp., RIKEN plans to promote research and development of a platform that will connect supercomputers and quantum computers with the aim to promote the early commercialization of quantum computers.

Though quantum computers have been touted as devices with the potential to revolutionize computing in different areas, there are still challenges involving scalability and error correction, and they are not ready to be put into full application. Consequently, there is an ongoing effort to take so-called NISQs, or “Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum computers,” and connect them with conventional computers to allow the development of applications.

Under the project, RIKEN plans to make use of the supercomputer Fugaku and other cutting-edge scientific infrastructure, and to work together with Softbank, as well as the University of Tokyo and Osaka University, which are implementing partners, to carry out research to develop software to connected quantum and classical supercomputers. Specifically, two commercial computers will be connected to Fugaku, in order to allow the development of a system that can be used with various types of computer. First, a superconducting quantum computer developed by IBM with more than 100 qubits will be installed within the same building as Fugaku. And secondly, a trapped ion quantum computer with more than 20 qubits developed by Quantinuum will be installed on the Wako campus and connected to Fugaku. These multiple setups will allow researchers to develop software to allow the supercomputer to be connected to quantum computers with various configurations.

In the background of this project, RIKEN has been conducting research and development on quantum classical computer hybrids as part of the TRIP initiative which has been promoted since FY2023 as a challenging project that aims to link RIKEN's cutting-edge research platforms—supercomputers, large synchrotron radiation facilities, bio-resource projects, etc. —to drive a pioneering digital transformation of research and provide an engine for social change. As part of the TRIP project, Fugaku will be linked to the Japan-built A quantum computer, which is based on superconducting qubits. By linking this project to other TRIP efforts, RIKEN plans to further accelerate the overall research and development, leading to world-leading application of quantum computers and supercomputers. Through this, it plans to contribute to solving increasingly serious global issues through the development of science, technology, and innovation using a world leading, domestically produced quantum computer and the construction of a cutting-edge computing environment using quantum computers and supercomputers.