IBM and AIST collaborate on 10,000-qubit quantum computer — 75x more qubits than rivals

IBM quantum computer
(Image credit: IBM)

IBM has ambitions to take the lead in quantum computing, with a new governmental partnership inbound to make this a reality. Japanese news outlet Nikkei reports on a leaked joint effort by IBM and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) that seeks to produce a quantum computer containing 10,000 qubits by 2029, vastly outclassing today's class-leading 133-qubit machines

Quantum computing has been a major focus of IBM for a few years now, and this newest step forward is a notable one. The 10,000 qubit machine explodes past IBM's current quantum roadmap, which doesn't even reach 2,000 qubits in commercial products until 2033 and beyond. (IBM had previously planned on a 2025 release of a 1,000 qubit computer, Condor, but the prototype has been shelved.) The goal of the 10,000-qubit machine is to run quantum calculations without a traditional supercomputer as backup, as modern 133-qubit machines often make enough mistakes to need support computers checking their work. 

IBM and AIST are set to announce the deal with a signed memorandum "in the coming days", according to Nikkei's source. The partnership has some major goals already set forth. IBM and AIST will seek to develop semiconductors and circuits that function in near-absolute zero temperatures. Quantum computers work more efficiently and correctly the closer to zero Kelvin they get, and today's largest machines have to have their qubits and chips/circuits in separate rooms or chambers, so creating components that function at extreme temperatures is a necessary step for advancing quantum research. 

AIST will leverage its patents, AI knowledge base, and connections to Japanese part-makers in the production of the forthcoming supercomputer. AIST will also help ensure future quantum supercomputers get into the hands of Japanese companies and industries, by providing training to companies and lobbying for the adoption of quantum by Japanese companies. This access to the lifeblood of Japanese industry is reportedly why IBM made the deal, the company's largest deal with a governmental industry in the quantum field.

It is important to note that much like every other part of computing, one massive number does not a great machine make. Qubit quality and efficiency increase quickly, which is why IBM has shelved recent attempts at 1,000-qubit computers in favor of their 133-qubit machines which beat 1,000-qubit prototypes in quality and efficiency. And just as traditional CPUs utilize hyper-threading and caching for better performance, quantum computing has other methods that increase its performance beyond simply boosting qubit numbers forever. After all, quantum computers become less stable at higher qubit counts, so the future of quantum will rely on smart engineering in keeping the 10,000-qubit and beyond computers of the future stable and inexpensive to run.

IBM and AIST's partnership may turn out to have a serious impact on quantum computing's growth and adoption. But today's quantum is still in its infancy, and has a long way to go before it becomes useful for consumers or professionals. IBM's 2021 quantum processor was recently out-classed by a team of researchers and a Commodore 64, proving IBM and the industry have a long road ahead of them to reach the point of true quantum utility.

Dallin Grimm
Contributing Writer

Dallin Grimm is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware. He has been building and breaking computers since 2017, serving as the resident youngster at Tom's. From APUs to RGB, Dallin has a handle on all the latest tech news. 

  • JTWrenn
    This is where I am worried AI is just gonna wake up one day. I really feel like quantum computing is the pandoras box we are just not worried enough about.
    Reply
  • brandonjclark
    What does it all mean?!??!?
    Reply
  • JRStern
    I'll believe it when I see it, I mean see it do something.
    Reply
  • ezst036
    Are Quantum Computers still limited to doing very specific things or can this be used for general purposes for any task at all?

    (I'm not leading into a Crysis joke here.)

    Assuming an attempted serious work at porting, could this run either Windows, Linux, or other general purpose software? Web browsers? Office applications?
    Reply
  • Diogene7
    IMO, at this point in time, it is still too early to allocate significant resources to quantum computing, without first mastering spintronics related technologies.

    It is bit like if for space exploration, we would have gone straight for Mars before even launching a satellite in doace or going to the Moon !!!

    I am confident that technologies and knowledge that would be develop to master spintronic computing, could then be leverage as a step on the path to then reach quantum computing.

    Therefore the priority should be first to allocate vast amount of resources to develop spintronics related technologies (MRAM, Intel MESO concept, French lab Spintec FESO concept, p-bit computing,…).

    Then a few years down the line, it would make sense to consider quantum computing…
    Reply
  • TechyIT223
    Article lacks a lot of info which needs to be explained in more details.
    Reply
  • gburke
    Having absolute control on atomic spins to get no errors in computing sounds near impossible. I'm impressed by the theory behind this technology. But practicality could be years, if ever at all.
    Reply
  • frogr
    ezst036 said:
    Are Quantum Computers still limited to doing very specific things or can this be used for general purposes for any task at all?

    (I'm not leading into a Crysis joke here.)

    Assuming an attempted serious work at porting, could this run either Windows, Linux, or other general purpose software? Web browsers? Office applications?
    Quantum computers are not expected to outperform classical computers in general computing but may show advantages in solving specific classes of problems: https://thequantuminsider.com/2023/05/24/quantum-computing-applications/
    Since the quantum computer will act as a coprocessor for specific problems similar to a using a GPU for computations, a user interface such as windows or linux will not run on the quantum computer itself.
    Reply
  • jp7189
    I hope they learn a lot from the attempt, but it's hard to take such huge numbers seriously.
    Reply
  • Silas Sanchez
    ezst036 said:
    Are Quantum Computers still limited to doing very specific things or can this be used for general purposes for any task at all?

    (I'm not leading into a Crysis joke here.)

    Assuming an attempted serious work at porting, could this run either Windows, Linux, or other general purpose software? Web browsers? Office applications?
    They are limited in the sense that they require extreme resources to keep the internal workings isolated from the environment, that costs alot of energy and takes up space, there is no getting around that as its fundamental physics. Id say based on the known science and economics they wont take off until another century and will be only used by big corps and gov. QC are sadly the result of dishonest, greedy and bias people taking advantage of the uneducated masses. Scientists and researchers constitute some of the most dodgy people in our society and you listen to actual science (proper text book consensus) not groups who make big claims. Where there is money involved scientists often misslead and conceal information.
    They tell us nuclear fusion will break even when fundamental physics shows its pretty much impossible. Just because its on a website or in the form of news doesn't make it true, that is getting pretty close to the argument from authority. All the hype from corporations doesn't mean something is true, truth as problematic as it is, is arrived at by facts, science etc and not assertions.

    The way these things work, you make money on hype.
    This reminds me of the claims of mining the asteroid field, some start up company made a big deal about doing it and then was sold out. Because you dont make money actually going to the asteroid field, you make money pretending you are all the while actually knowing you stand no real chance of doing it. Oh sure, humans may mine the asteroid field, in the next few centuries, but not anytime soon.
    Reply