Quantum computing: Forget about qubits, here come qutrits

Rigetti unveils 80-qubit processor quantum computer consisting of two 40-qubit computers, and experiments with 'third state' in quantum processors.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

US quantum computer outfit Rigetti Computing has announced the Aspen-M, an 80-qubit processor quantum computer that consists of two connected 40-qubit chips. 

The Aspen-M, available in a private beta, is the culmination of Rigetti's particular take on large-scale quantum computers. 

The firm is pursuing multi-chip quantum processors and announced plans earlier this year to offer it to customers through its Quantum Cloud Services platform.

SEE: Status Report: Is quantum computing worth the leaps of faith?

Instead of scaling up a single quantum processor, it's been linking smaller chips to create a modular processor with a larger number of qubits – the quantum version of bits in classical computers, characterized by 1s and 0s, which can achieve superposition where a bit can be both 1 and 0 or any combination inbetween those states. 

Rigetti also launched a new Aspen system based on a single-chip 40-qubit processor, which is generally available on Rigetti Quantum Cloud Services, Strangeworks, and Amazon Web Services' Braket managed quantum computing service. 

Rigetti claims Aspen superconducting processors bring scale, speed, and fidelity improvements that deliver 2.5 faster quantum processing times over its existing systems and reduce readout errors by up to half, thus improving the reliability of quantum program results. 

"Our machines are now at a scale and speed where they can process the real-world data sets that underpin high-impact applications," said Chad Rigetti, founder and CEO of Rigetti Computing. "We believe these systems give researchers and enterprises the best platform to pursue quantum advantage on real problems."

Separately, Rigetti announced it had added a third state to its qubits to create "qutrits" that allow more information to be encoded in a single element and decreases readout errors. It's currently offering experimental access to qutrit operations through its Quil-T service.   

"Adding just one additional state turns our qubits into qutrits, which can not only increase the amount of information encoded in a single element, but also enables techniques that can dramatically decrease readout errors," the company said.

"Accessing the third state in our processors is useful for researchers exploring the cutting edge of quantum computing, quantum physics [4] and those interested in traditional, qubit-based algorithms alike," it added.

SEE: What is quantum computing? Everything you need to know about the strange world of quantum computer

Quantum computer heavyweights including IBM, Microsoft and Google have been partnering with consultancies and industry players in pharmaceuticals, for example, to find new applications for quantum computing. 

Microsoft recently teamed up with consultancy KPMG to work on several business applications. Meanwhile, Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum are combining their respective hardware and software to push into quantum computing. IonQ, which hosts a 11-qubit trapped-ion system on AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, is partnering with Accenture to reach enterprise customers

Rigetti announced it is collaborating with Deloitte and Strangeworks to explore quantum applications in material simulation, optimization, and machine learning using Rigetti's new processors.  

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