Tag Archives: quantum

Microsoft and DEWA bringing quantum computing to Dubai | Stories

DEWA will work with Microsoft and access new quantum Microsoft Azure services to create quantum-inspired solutions to power energy optimization and improve sustainability efforts in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — June 28, 2018 — The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) on Thursday announced plans to work with Microsoft Corp. to develop new quantum-based solutions to address energy optimization and other challenges where classical computers have serious limitations, making it the first organization outside the U.S. to participate in the Microsoft Quantum program.

As part of the deal, Microsoft will work closely with DEWA to identify the challenges where quantum computing will have the greatest impact. Energy optimization, for example, requires far too much traditional computing power to identify the ideal balance of resources from different energy sources to meet ever-changing consumption needs in real time.

As part of Dubai 10X (an initiative to use advances in technology to deliver new or existing services in radically different ways), DEWA wants to reimagine its role as a utility company by launching “Digital DEWA,” the digital arm of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, and is leveraging Microsoft Quantum to help accelerate its goals. In addition, the two organizations will look at ways to support the Dubai EXPO 2020, an event that brings people from all over the world to share ideas.

“We are delighted to work with Microsoft to bring the revolutionary power of quantum computing to Dubai, to achieve the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world. This also will contribute to addressing key challenges while furthering our goal to make the UAE one of the most innovative and sustainable countries in the world,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of DEWA. “This partnership will provide us with early access to Microsoft’s quantum computing research and capabilities to develop solutions that improve performance, productivity and quality of services provided to our customers and beyond.”

Microsoft is pioneering the emerging quantum era through a unique approach that will deliver the industry’s most stable and scalable quantum computer. As the development of the quantum computer continues, select partners such as DEWA can access new quantum-inspired Azure services for the most complete, state-of-the-art, end-to-end quantum programming.

Working with Microsoft, the Quantum Development Kit toolset and Azure quantum-inspired services, DEWA will be able to program and test quantum algorithms, then apply those quantum solutions within the existing Azure platform to achieve real-world impacts even before the development of a general-purpose quantum computer. This work will also provide DEWA with a seamless migration to using Microsoft’s quantum computer once it is available.

“Quantum computing holds the promise of solving some of our planet’s greatest challenges that today’s computers are unable to solve,” said Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice president of Microsoft Quantum. “Innovative partners such as DEWA understand the benefits of getting in early, not only to build their quantum knowledge and skills but to create immediate solutions that can be applied today.”

DEWA will also work with Microsoft to develop a quantum strategy, including understanding where quantum optimization methods can be applied for greatest impact in Dubai, both on classical computers and in the future on Microsoft’s quantum computer.

More information can be found at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/quantum/.

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Enhanced debugging and faster simulation with the latest Quantum Development Kit update

This post was authored with contributions by Cathy Palmer, Program Manager, Quantum Software & Services.

Today, Microsoft released an update to the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit including an enhanced debugging experience and faster simulations, as well as several contributions from the Q# community. We’re excited about the momentum generated by the many new Q# developers joining us in building a new generation of quantum computing.

Just over six months ago, we released a preview of Q#, our new programming language for quantum development featuring rich integration with Visual Studio. The February 26 release added integration with Visual Studio Code to support Q# development on macOS and Linux as well as Python interoperability for Windows. Since then, tens of thousands of developers have begun to explore Q# and the world of quantum development.

Today’s update includes significant performance improvements for simulations, regardless of the number of qubits required, as shown in the H2 simulation below. This is a standard sample included in the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit.

Simulation comparison

This update includes new debugging functionality within Visual Studio. The probability of measuring a “1” on a qubit is now automatically shown in the Visual Studio debugging window, making it easier to check the accuracy of your code. The release also improves the display of variable properties, enhancing the readability of the quantum state.

Screen showing enhanced debugging

Adding to the new debugging improvements, you’ll find two new functions that output probability information related to the target quantum machine at a specified point in time, called DumpMachine and DumpRegister. To learn more, you can review this additional information on debugging quantum programs.

Thanks to your community contributions, the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit now includes new helper functions and operations, plus new samples to improve the onboarding and debugging experience. Check out the release notes for a full list of contributions.

Download the latest Microsoft Quantum Development Kit

We’ve been thrilled with the participation, contributions, and inspiring work of the Q# community. We can’t wait to see what you do next.

Microsoft making progress on quantum computer ‘every day’

Microsoft is “all-in” on building a quantum computer and is making advancements “every day”, according to one of the company’s top experts on the technology.

Julie Love (above), Director of Quantum Computing, called the firm’s push to build the next generation of computer technology “one of the biggest disruptive bets we have made as a company”.

Quantum computing has the potential to help humans tackle some of the world’s biggest problems in areas such as materials science, chemistry, genetics, medicine and the environment. It uses the physics of qubits to create a way of computing that can work on specific kinds of problems that are impossible with today’s computers. In theory, a problem that would take today’s machines billions of years to solve could be completed by a quantum computer in minutes, hours or days.

While Microsoft has noted that no one has yet built a working quantum computer, Love said the company has the right team in place to make progress and eventually create a system and software that can tackle real-world issues. Over the past decade, Microsoft has built a team comprised of some of the greatest minds in quantum physics, mathematics, computer science and engineering. It is also working with some of the leading experts in universities across the world.

“Quantum computers could solve a set of problems that are completely intractable to humans at this time, and it could do so in 100 seconds,” she said during a speech at London Tech Week. “Microsoft’s enterprise customers are interested in changing their businesses using this technology, and we have set our sights beyond the hype cycle. We have a good understanding of what’s needed.

“Microsoft is working on the only scalable solution, one that will run seamlessly on the Azure cloud, and be much more immune to errors. The truth is that not all qubits are equal; most are inherently unstable and susceptible to error-creating noise from the environment. Our approach uses topological qubits specifically for their higher accuracy, lower cost and ability to perform long enough to solve complex real-world problems.”

Microsoft is the only major company attempting to build topological qubits, which aims to significantly reduce any interference at a subatomic level that might affect the machine. With this approach, the computational qubits will be “corrected” by the other qubits.

“When we run systems, there are trade-offs in power, because they have to be very cold. However, we get higher compute capabilities,” said Love, who started studying quantum computing in the late-1990s.

Last year, Microsoft released a Quantum Development Kit, which includes its Q# programming language for people who want to start writing applications for a quantum computer. These can be tested in Microsoft’s online simulator. Q# is designed for developers who are keen to learn how to program on these machines whether or not they are experts in the field of quantum physics.

“We have released the Quantum Development Kit so developers can learn to program a quantum computer and join us on this journey,” Love added.

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Quantum computing applications creep forward

They are still largely products of the laboratory, but quantum computing applications may be reaching the point at which business leaders should begin to take notice.

Machine learning and AI are widely seen as fodder for future quantum approaches, but chemical simulation, cryptography and material science may be lining up first for the quantum treatment. In quantum computing application developments this week:

  • Volkswagen at the CEBIT technology show in Hannover, Germany, disclosed some successes in its work with Google on quantum computers for battery research.
  • Startup Strangeworks rolled out of stealth mode to describe plans to provide development tools for quantum computing aimed at the aerospace, pharmaceuticals, energy and finance industries.
  • IBM announced ACQUA, for Algorithms and Circuits for Quantum Applications. When used with a previously available IBM quantum information science kit for software developers, ACQUA software is intended to allow domain experts in fields like chemistry, optimization and AI to run existing algorithms from classical computing jobs on IBM quantum computers on the IBM Cloud.

The quantum computing applications have evoked excitement even though they have yet to certifiably surpass the best of conventional computers; some call that inflection point “quantum supremacy.”

The buzz has been triggered because quantum computing, based on murky-to-many atomic-scale quantum mechanics, could spur exponential increases in data processing. Someday, quantum approaches could blast past classical computers that support binary states of 0 and 1, by including additional states of 0 and 1, and 0 or 1.

Closer quantum view

Like other recent news on quantum computing applications, the work tends to be research-oriented. More than 20 years after it was demonstrated at the logical gate level, quantum computing still seems a ways off. But it may be getting closer.

Brian Hopkins, Forrester ResearchBrian Hopkins

Forrester analyst Brian Hopkins has a view on this. He has been tracking quantum computers for years, and admits it hasn’t been so close that business leaders had to have it on their radar. That may be changing, though there is still some “fudge factor” in his time estimate, he said.

“We may be in that two- to three-year time frame — or, definitely within five years — where we are going to have some real uses for specialized non-error corrected quantum computers in certain industries,” Hopkins said. “The leaders who are savvy enough to make the right investments could be in a position to reap first mover benefits.”

The leaders who are savvy enough to make the right investments could be in a position to reap first mover benefits.
Brian Hopkinsanalyst, Forrester Research

Elaborating on quantum computing applications, Hopkins said he divides quantum computers into specialized and universal systems.

The specialized variety can solve individual, practical problems. The universal type, like today’s general purpose computers, is meant to handle all kinds of problems. Error correction in the quantum domain is somewhat different than error correction in digital circuits

According to Hopkins, long-running jobs will stress quantum systems’ abilities to maintain stable qubits. Error correction for quantum computing applications, he has written, is meant to yield smaller numbers of fault-tolerant, stable and logical qubits from many physical qubits.

Tech developers should learn quantum computing

Tech leaders will have to begin to learn some basics of quantum computing, in order to follow the future progress of different types of quantum computing, Hopkins maintained. That is especially true in science-intensive industries.

In those areas, he said, leaders need “to follow the progress of the different types of quantum computers to understand when they might achieve supremacy in the domains where they have a business problem that could benefit.”

“For example, if you are in chemical manufacturing, and [researchers] hit supremacy in quantum chemistry — if a Google or an IBM can create some quantum algorithms that run on a quantum computer that can solve some theoretical quantum chemistry problems — you should know that,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins recently reported on the status of quantum computing applications in a Forrester blog.

Major tech companies getting into quantum

There is interest in machine learning, neural networks and AI among such quantum players as D-Wave Systems, Google, IBM and Microsoft. But Google, particularly, has AI on its mind when it comes to quantum endeavors, Hopkins said.

“The key to understanding why Google is doing this at all is to look at the name of its lab,” he said. “They call it the Google Quantum AI Lab. The reason for that is they believe the primary application for quantum computing is accelerating artificial intelligence.”

Quantum computing has a long history. With all the data needed to successfully train deep learning systems of the future, some exponential breakthroughs of the quantum kind could prove very helpful — eventually.

As Hopkins and other quantum aficionados might say: Watch this space.

Quantum Xcellis scale-out NAS tackles unstructured data

Quantum Corp.’s new Xcellis Scale-out NAS system moves the vendor into the mainstream NAS market, where it will take on the likes of Dell EMC Isilon and NetApp FAS.

The Quantum Xcellis Scale-out NAS appliances target large semistructured and unstructured  primary data workloads. Sample use cases include analytics, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicle development, drug discovery, genomics and immersive content.

Xcellis encompasses a line of Quantum data storage hardware managed by the StorNext scalable file system. Quantum first launched the Xcellis brand in late 2015, putting StorNext onto an appliance. The new scale-out NAS version handles higher capacity workloads, and Quantum claims it can scale to hundreds of petabytes with no effect on performance.

The new scale-out Quantum Xcellis NAS nodes are scheduled for general availability in December.

“We are aiming this product at users with high-value workflows where data is the product,” said Laura Shepard, Quantum senior director of emerging technologies. “This tends to be data that grows very rapidly and requires very high performance and scale. These tend to be primary workloads that need to stay on premises.

“We believe we can offer the enterprise features of scale-out NAS with cost-effective performance scaling, which has not been a great strength of traditional enterprise NAS,” Shepard said.

StorNext scale-out storage is Quantum’s fastest growing segment. Quantum still drives most of its income from tape, but also sells disk-based backup. When he took over as Quantum’s interim CEO last month, Adalio Sanchez called scale-out storage the vendor’s growth engine. 

New Quantum configurations cluster all-flash, archiving, hybrid

Quantum Xcellis all-flash and hybrid building blocks are available in 5U and 6U form factors. The all-flash systems range from 370 TB to 925 TB of capacity. Quantum rates all-flash performance at 1 million IOPS.

Quantum Xcellis hybrid configurations for mixed workflows scale to 400 TB and 200,000 IOPS. A 3U entry-level Xcellis NAS tops out at 370 TB. Quantum also offers a 5U archive model with up to 448 TB of disk storage. Varying Quantum Xcellis node types can be mixed and managed as a single tier of storage. Users can add nodes individually to a cluster or combined in a rack-scale deployment for up to 3 PB of raw capacity.

The unified Quantum data storage presents block, file and object in a single namespace. Users can scale performance and storage separately and offload data to any StorNext-managed storage. Quantum allows tiering to on-premises object stores and the public cloud, but the data then is no longer managed by StorNext.

Quantum’s StorNext data management includes audits, encryption, erasure coding, load balancing, point-in-time snapshots, RAID, replication and WORM compliance. StorNext manages Xcellis data across IBM Cloud Object Storage, NetApp StorageGrid, Scality and Quantum Lattus object platforms, as well as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure public clouds.

Will Quantum make inroads against established NAS vendors?

Scott Sinclair, a storage analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said managing rapid data growth is not the only headache for digital-based enterprises. A bigger challenge is the ability for storage to provide streaming access to data for analytics and real-time business operations.

Sinclair breaks the enterprise NAS market into three segments: “Enterprise-class systems focus on features and functionality for data management. A second segment includes vendors that provide big pools of storage that’s cheap and deep, without many features. The third segment is HPC systems optimized for speed. Quantum claims Xcellis NAS can deliver all of that in one product,” Sinclair said.

“There is a demand for [NAS] technology that is good — if not great — at handling the multiple aspects of functionality, cost-effective scaling and performance,” he added. “The question is whether Quantum Xcellis will be able to deliver to the extent that it starts to displace the incumbents. Even though there aren’t many vendors, it’s a difficult market to penetrate.”

Microsoft just upped its multi-million bet on quantum computing | ZDNet

charlesmarkusqdev.jpg

The Nordic outpost of Microsoft’s US-based quantum research lab, Station Q, will be headed by professor Charles Marcus, one of four scientists Microsoft hired last year. (Image: University of Copenhagen)

Microsoft has tipped several million dollars into a new quantum computing R&D lab at Copenhagen University, Denmark.

Microsoft has signed a multi-year deal with the university to collaborate on the development of a general-purpose quantum computer. Microsoft’s staff will be working with the university’s Niels Bohr Institute.

The institute is headed up by professor Charles Marcus, one of four scientists Microsoft hired last year to accelerate its bet that it can create a scalable quantum computer.

Marcus runs the institute’s Center for Quantum Devices (QDev) and the partnership establishes the university as a Nordic outpost of Microsoft’s US-based quantum research lab, Station Q. QDev will be home to Station Q Copenhagen, alongside Station Q labs at the University of Sydney, Purdue University, and Delft University.

Instead of conventional transistor’s on or off state, represented by 1 and 0, a quantum computer’s bits, called qubits, are based on quantum particles and can be both on and off at the same time. That characteristic offers the potential for far more powerful computers.

Microsoft is betting that topological quantum computing holds the key to creating a stable qubit. Topology, or the mathematical study of shapes and space, is gaining more attention among quantum computing researchers.

As noted in Nature, Microsoft’s approach aims to encode qubits in a quasiparticle called ‘non-abelian anyons’ that emerge from interactions inside matter. It hopes to use their topological properties, which make qubits more stable, to create its general-purpose quantum computer.

According to Copenhagen University, Microsoft now has over a dozen employees located there and expects the team to grow as they work toward developing a topological quantum computer.

On top of the multi-million dollar investment, Microsoft has also agreed to “significant” quantum research funding at the university.

“The critical pillars for successful and productive quantum research already exist at the University of Copenhagen — an aligned vision between Microsoft and the university, an exceptional team of top quantum researchers, a broad and deep pool of post doctorate and student talent, and a solid baseline of facilities and equipment dedicated to quantum research,” said David Pritchard, chief of staff for the Artificial Intelligence and Research division at Microsoft.

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