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IBM Introduces Open Quantum Software Ecosystem. Why Is It Significant?

Quantum computing

Rapid advancements in quantum technology have helped solve complex computational problems in a significantly lesser amount of time. On account of its high potential, experimentation and research work in quantum computing has picked up momentum in recent years.

From D-Wave announcing the general availability of a quantum computer with 5000 qubits to development of high-level programming language Silq for quantum computers and Intel introducing Horse Ridge II to development of Jiuzhang, 2020 witnessed a few breakthroughs in quantum computing.


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And now, barely a month into 2021, two major developments from IBM and Microsoft have truly set the stage for a Quantum revolution.

IBM has said it’s developing an ecosystem aimed at enterprises looking to invest and innovate in quantum computing space.

Open Quantum Software Ecosystem

In September 2020, IBM released a roadmap for scaling quantum technology — to transition from small-scale devices to million qubit devices in the near future. IBM had also announced their team was working on IBM Quantum Condor, a 1000-plus qubit device, to be released at the end of 2023. This was essentially a hardware roadmap, built to eventually design a ‘full-stack quantum computer deployed via the cloud that anyone around the world can program’.

Now, IBM has released an action plan for the software development aspect of this project. Big Blue will utilise the open-source community support and mobilise developers worldwide to democratise access to quantum technology. The blueprint identifies three main segments for laying the foundation for future work in this technology:

  • Creating high-performance quantum circuits at the lowest levels.
  • Developing groundbreaking algorithms based on these circuits.
  • Applying these algorithms to real-world applications in machine learning, physics, chemistry, optimisation, and finance.

Credit: IBM

What To Expect?

Released in 2017, Qiskit is an open-source framework for quantum computing, with tools for creation and manipulation of quantum programs. 

This year, IBM will release Qiskit runtime. It is an execution environment that facilitates running a larger number of circuits at a much faster speed. It can also store classical-quantum workload for other users to run them as a service. This will explore iterative circuit execution allowing quantum systems to speed up 100 times and deliver tasks in hours, which usually need months to complete in a traditional setting.

IBM spokesperson said, “The Qiskit runtime rethinks the classical-quantum workload so that programs will be uploaded and executed on classical hardware located beside quantum hardware, slashing latencies emerging from communication between the user’s computer and the quantum processor.”

Notably, in December 2020, IBM had announced OpenQASM3, an update on the existing OpenQASM quantum assembly language. OpenQASM3 will offer great advantage towards building ‘error mitigated and error-corrected’ quantum computation

By 2023, IBM will offer entire families of pre-built runtimes. The on-going work in the quantum kernel and algorithms space will allow users to explore quantum computing models without requiring in-depth knowledge of quantum physics. IBM hopes that their work will help developers build systems in any cloud-native hybrid runtime, language or framework and integrate quantum components in any business workflow in the near future.

IBM will also introduce circuit libraries and control systems for manipulating large qubit systems. This will allow kernel developers to utilise hardware with thousand plus qubits effectively.

Wrapping Up

With this roadmap, IBM is emphasising on collaborative efforts for developing an ecosystem of sorts for the future. This ecosystem will help quantum developers to work seamlessly with each other in the same integrated cloud-based framework. In future, quantum components will be agnostic in terms of origin and nature of integration.

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Shraddha Goled
I am a technology journalist with AIM. I write stories focused on the AI landscape in India and around the world with a special interest in analysing its long term impact on individuals and societies. Reach out to me at

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