Quantum computing move toward “standard manufacturing”

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Quantum computing is advancing from bespoke, made-to-order models towards a more standardized manufacturing approach, signaling a significant shift in the industry. Key developments include:

Companies are pioneering the move towards manufacturing facilities, such as a new 100,000-square-foot facility outside Seattle, from a company called IonQ aiming for “Henry Ford kind of assembly lines” for quantum computing. This marks a shift from custom-built machines to potentially standardizing parts of quantum computers, which could make the technology more accessible and accelerate research.

Presently, quantum computers are mainly used for research, with the largest systems having fewer than 2,000 qubits. Achieving the quantum leap in performance—capable of breaking encryption and solving complex problems—is anticipated to require millions of qubits.

Quantum computers are evolving from unique, physicist-tuned systems to ones that share standard components or architectures, even if no two systems are exactly alike. For example, IonQ has started building systems in advance of orders and recently sold two systems to the Air Force Research Labs.

Companies are focusing on engineering the systems for modularity and standardizing parts for faster build and iteration times. Efforts are also being made to reduce the size of components, like shrinking laser systems from the size of a refrigerator to that of a cigar, and addressing the significant energy demands for cooling large-scale quantum computers.

The future goal is for quantum systems to be modular, allowing for connectivity to enhance computing power and facilitate error correction, a crucial hurdle for quantum computing. IBM is working on connecting qubit blocks via quantum communication channels, which could significantly reduce the qubit count needed for error correction.

As quantum systems are deployed, a supply chain for quantum computing hardware is emerging, with vendors for components based on relatively mature technologies. However, the development of quantum algorithms remains a top challenge.

Industry leaders like IBM’s Jay Gambetta and Rigetti’s David Rivas emphasize the importance of government support to advance quantum computing, suggesting that bolstering the quantum computing supply chain and research could drive significant industry growth.

Sources inlcude: Axios

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