The ceremonial commissioning for Europe’s first quantum computer represents a watershed moment in Europe’s quantum computing research.
At Forschungszentrum Jülich, a quantum computer with over 5000 qubits is now in operation. The Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) and D-Wave Systems, a prominent provider of quantum computing systems, have announced the introduction of the company’s first quantum cloud-based system outside of North America. The new system is based in Jülich and will, in the future, collaborate closely with JSC’s supercomputers. The quantum extension is part of Jülich’s user infrastructure for quantum computing (JUNIQ), which has provided access to numerous quantum systems to researchers in Germany and Europe since autumn 2019.
During a ceremony today, Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst, and EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel officially commissioned the system, emphasizing the importance of collaboration across industries and research areas in the development of practical quantum applications. The state government and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research are each contributing five million euros to the development of JUNIQ.
“Quantum computers offer enormous opportunities for our future and for Germany as a research location. They have the potential to change our everyday lives for the better – for example, with a view to the optimal use of our power grid, the optimization of investment strategies in the financial market or the design of more effective medicines. That is why the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is intensively promoting the development of quantum computers on a broad basis. Today’s commissioning of a quantum analogue in the JUNIQ user infrastructure is another important step towards bringing Germany and Europe to the forefront of quantum computing internationally.”Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger
“The combination of quantum and supercomputing technologies is the key to the realization of advanced scientific discoveries and opens doors to new worlds with great innovation potential. Scientists, businesses and other organisations can access this revolutionary technology, which is now in Europe, creating real added value.”Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner
“The JUNIQ user infrastructure and the commissioning of the quantum annealer in Jülich impressively demonstrate North Rhine-Westphalia’s development into a top European location for quantum computing. Our excellent scientific landscape and the close networking of our players in science and industry make it possible to fully exploit the potential of these technologies.”Hendrik Wüst, Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia
The purpose of Forschungszentrum Jülich is to establish a leading development and user community from industry and science for quantum computer applications in Germany and Europe.
“To this end, we created JUNIQ at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre in 2019, a user facility for open innovations that provides users with a uniform quantum computing platform as a service and the associated competencies for user support and joint software development,” explains Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich. “With JUNIQ, we are providing users and developers with service-oriented access to our unique Jülich quantum computing ecosystem, which, due to its excellent technical equipment, but above all through the bundling of our strong expertise in the field of supercomputing and quantum technologies, offers the best conditions for rapidly advancing the value-adding use of quantum computers.”
The new quantum system is the second D-Wave quantum computer in the JUNIQ user infrastructure and the first Advantage system outside of the company’s headquarters in Canada. Prof. Kristel Michielsen, a pioneer in quantum computing and leader of JSC’s “Quantum Information Processing” division, adds, “We operate the system directly at Jülich — this provides us the possibility to integrate it closely into our supercomputing infrastructure.” This allows jülich experts to obtain hands-on experience with the operation and maintenance of such a device, resulting in a significant knowledge transfer to Germany. Furthermore, access to this system will be governed and regulated by German law.
“As companies and research institutions identify key issues that require investment in quantum computing, the market opportunity for quantum computing is growing faster than ever,” said Alan Baratz, CEO of D-Wave. “This is especially true in Europe, where we are encountering growing interest from businesses, universities and even government institutions. Our European customers value computing sovereignty, and we are excited to bring together Jülich’s deep computing expertise and D-Wave’s ability to scale and commercialize transformative technologies. I am proud to deepen the footprint of quantum computing in Europe and look forward to the innovations and applications that will emerge from this system.”
The new system is referred to as a “quantum arsenal”: These quantum systems are particularly well suited to solve complex optimization issues of particular relevance to industry, such as controlling traffic flows effectively or training artificial neural networks for artificial intelligence applications. Customers of D-Wave have developed early quantum applications in fields as varied as financial modeling, aircraft planning, election modeling, quantum chemical simulation, automotive, healthcare, logistics, and more.
“We are also investigating ways to integrate the new system into our supercomputer infrastructure, which to our knowledge would be the first case in which a quantum computer works directly with a supercomputer,” says Prof. Thomas Lippert, Director of the Jülich Supercomputing Centre. “This is possible because the Annealer has over 5000 qubits and is therefore large enough to help with application-related problems such as those calculated on supercomputers.
It’s a quantum computer designed with industrial applications in mind. It also includes several unique features that JUNIQ infrastructure customers may make use of, including new advantage performance updates, quantum systems with a highly networked Pegasus topology, and the greatest performance in a commercial quantum system to date.