Quantum computing is one of the most fascinating technologies of our time: in QC, bits (the units of information that encode the two states, 1/0, of a switch) are replaced by qubits: complex objects, for example subatomic particles such as photons or electrons, which exploit some properties of quantum physics, which can store much more information than bits, therefore potentially much more powerful and performing than the systems in use.
To carry out research activities in the field of quantum computing, with the aim of making available to the international research community the skills acquired over the years, Cineca has created the Quantum Computing Lab. The Lab will provide the researchers with the most advanced quantum computing resources available.
Quantum computing in the international context
Today, large companies such as Google, IBM, Microsoft, but also start-ups such as D-Wave Pasqal or Rigetti, are investing huge resources to build powerful quantum computers. The interest worldwide is very high: the European Commission (as well as other governmental entities in the world) is following with interest the topic.
The Quantum Flagship Initiative, that was launched in 2018, is a ten-year research program funded with over one billion euros, which sees the involvement of all Member States in order to create a European network in the field of quantum computing. The project aims to deal with the new technology under different aspects: from its evaluation to its use in different contexts. The initiative is based on the Quantum Manifesto, the white paper created by the international research community, which identifies 5 “Quantum” research areas to be explored: Communication, Computation, Simulation, Metrology and Basic Science.
In the context of the initiative, Italy was represented by CNR and the Italian Ministry of University and Research which invested approximately 1.5 million euros in the project for the establishment of the ERANet QuantERA consortium, which brings together over 25 national bodies.
Among the projects funded by the Horizon 2020 and EuroHPC program, Cineca participates in “Pilot on Quantum Simulators”, which aims to develop a European quantum simulation infrastructure of about 100 interconnected units, accessible via the cloud. By making various quantum computing platforms available to European researchers, the project intends to allow them to familiarize with these technologies, in order to develop an ecosystem of programming environments and libraries of quantum applications.
Among the ongoing research on quantum computing, experiments have also been launched to defeat pandemics, such as the coronavirus.
Quantum computing at Cineca
Cineca has been dealing with quantum computing since 2018, and today makes its skills available to the scientific and research community, through the Quantum Computing Lab, through the Technological Observatory for companies, and giving access to quantum computing resources.
The Quantum Computing Laboratory
The Quantum Computing Lab is dedicated to study and use quantum computing for the computing and processing of information, with the aim of studying and evaluating its progress and encouraging the sharing of experiences between experts and users, even in the industrial context. Furthermore, the Lab will test the potential of quantum devices that will gradually become available, through the development of algorithms in different application fields: such as optimization problems, chemical simulations and Machine Learning. Finally, the QCLab will develop hybrid protocols in which quantum computing will be a support tool and accelerator for supercomputers.
Access to resources
Access to quantum computing resources is available to the scientific community since 1 March 2021: Cineca makes available to researchers of Italian universities and research centers that will participate in the call ISCRA-C, resources on the most advanced and mature quantum computing technologies currently available: D-wave and Pasqal, as well as access to quantum emulators installed on the Marconi100 system.
In particular, researchers can have access to:
- Quantum annealing resources , the use of which is possible thanks to the recent collaboration agreements between Cineca and the leading company in the sector: D-WAVE , which provides the Italian scientific community with computing hours both on the new D-WAVE computer, Advantage, that mounts a QPU of over 5000 qubits, both on D-WAVE hybrid machines, modern supercomputers that combine the power of quantum annealers with HPC resources.
- Quantum computing resources on Pasqal machines, a spin-off of the French Institut d'Optique (IOGS), that was the first in the world to develop a prototype of a quantum computer with neutral atom technology in 2011. Italian universities and research centers will be able to test one or two projects of high scientific relevance and applicative interest. ( Applications must be received by March 15, 2021 ).
- Quantum Computing emulators on HPC resources: relying on the impressive Marconi100 resources for QC emulation, a new profile has been set up for access to the supercomputer, called profile / quantum . Interested users will be able to use a series of pre-installed emulators.
The Quantum Computing Observatory
The Technological Observatory is dedicated to companies wishing to learn about quantum computing technology, to have more information on the evolution and application trends, on the opportunities and changes that this technology is bringing and will be able to bring in various industrial fields.
Quantum computing and the scientific community
The main researches in the quantum computing field are presented every year during the workshops organized by Cineca. The workshops collect different national and international experiences in this area, with the aim of sharing the research progresses with the entire scientific community.
The First edition, in 2018, of the “High Performance Computing and Quantum Computing” workshop was organized to share the potential and perspectives of this emerging technology with all the players. Both universities, research institutes and representatives of companies were involved, to create an opportunity for sharing between all areas of application.
The Second edition, in 2019, with the aim of bringing together researchers and professionals interested in quantum technology and its perspectives, addressed different disciplinary points of view (physics, information theory, mathematics, engineering, data sciences), and businesses (quantum technology, information technology, consulting, energy).
The Third edition, in 2020, in addition to the participation of universities and research centers, has expanded the participation of representatives of some of the most important multinational companies (IBM, Amazon, Atos, Intel, General Electric) and quantum computing companies (D- Wave, Pasqal, Xanadu and Zapata).