IBM outlines its quantum computing software roadmap with heavy dose of Qiskit, open source

By 2025, IBM is projecting that there will be frictionless quantum computing to enable a broad array of applications that will surpass classical computing.

IBM laid out a software roadmap for quantum computing that will include the release the Qiskit runtime this year, updated software interfaces and circuit libraries and control systems into 2023.

By 2025, IBM is projecting that there will be frictionless quantum computing to enable a broad array of applications that will surpass classical computing. A lot is riding on open source software called Qiskit. That runtime will serve as the base for further quantum software development. IBM outlined its quantum computing hardware roadmap in September

Bob Sutor, vice president of IBM Quantum Ecosystem Development at IBM, said outlining a software roadmap is critical to developers as well as enterprises looking to invest in quantum computing. "Roadmaps give people more confidence on what to expect and when," said Sutor. "We do hope this gives a lot more certainty."

Sutor said the goal is to set up a software ecosystem to get to the point where quantum computing trumps the classic approach. Much of the roadmap revolves around eliminating noise in the quantum system and errors. "This is a different programming model and we are mixing software development constructs," said Sutor.

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Because quantum computers are physical systems it's critical that software develops to correct errors and add fault tolerance. Ultimately, developers will earn quantum computing programming and Sutor noted there has been a lot of interest in IBM's quantum classes. "If you know Python you can learn quantum computing," said Sutor. "Then you just have to decide where you want to enter the stack. If you're a sophomore in college and thinking ahead you can use Qiskit for all of this."

Here's a look at the roadmap.

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A few key highlights along the way:

  • IBM is focusing on interfaces with the OpenQASM3 assembly language will allow quantum kernel developers to run dynamic circuits by 2020.
  • Big Blue plans to debut circuit libraries and advanced control systems to manage large qubit fabrics into 2023. That move will allow kernel developers scale with hardware with 1,000 or more qubits.
  • Quantum algorithm developers will enter the mix after the kernel layer is developed. These developers will be critical given they will be creating new applications for quantum circuits. So you think you want to study quantum computing? | Quantum computing now is a bit like SQL was in the late 80s: Wild and wooly and full of promise
  • By 2023, IBM will offer pre-built runtimes that are callable from cloud-based APIs using common developer frameworks. At this point, quantum systems will be abstracted enough to bring in a larger group of developers.
  • IBM plans to build its quantum software tools on top of Red Hat OpenShift and open standards. With the OpenShift Qiskit operator, developers will be able to install Jupyter notebook and the Qiskit SDK.
  • In 2025, quantum computing's hardware nuances won't matter to users or developers due to cloud computing and APIs. By 2030, IBM is projecting that companies and users will run billions and maybe trillions of quantum circuits a day.

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