Europe’s number one has over 5,000 qubits
This is what Europe’s number one looks like. A quantum computer with more than 5,000 qubits has been running at Forschungszentrum Jülich since January 2022 – no other system in Europe offers so many computing units. The computer called “Advantage” was developed by the Canadian company D-Wave Systems. Only two similar computers exist, which have been running at D-Wave in Canada since 2020.
These systems are so-called quantum annealers. They are constructed differently from universal quantum computers – such as those being developed by IBM and Google, but also by Jülich researchers – and therefore cannot be universally programmed. Instead, they provide one specific computational process, which makes them specialists for challenging optimization problems, for example: efficient control of traffic flows or training of artificial neural networks for artificial intelligence applications. This capacity is also of great interest to industry. With the aid of D-Wave’s quantum annealers, for example, a bank increased the return on an investment portfolio, a supermarket group improved its supply chains and an automobile manufacturer optimized workflows in the paint shop. Industry and science can access both “Advantage” and annealers in Canada via the Jülich user infrastructure JUNIQ, the range of quantum computers and supercomputers of which is constantly being expanded(see JUNIQ machinery park).
The fact that “Advantage” is located at Jülich also opens up new insights and new opportunities for research. For starters, the annealer is to be closely integrated into the Jülich supercomputing infrastructure, while Jülich researchers can also put the system to the acid test, so to speak. After all, the technology is so new that it has not yet been completely clarified for which problems quantum annealing actually brings an advantage over classical computers. Jülich collaborations with the automotive industry and energy supply companies, for example, are expected to help find this out.
Illustration: Andrzej Koston, Bild: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau, Video: Forschungszentrum Jülich