The future of quantum computing in Germany and Europe

Bitkom #quantensummit 2022 The future of quantum computing in Germany and Europe

Quantum computing between “extreme computing sports” and the “normal road” to high-performance computing. “Bitkom #quantensummit 2022” has focused more on the scope of capabilities than on the glamor of high performance.

presenters on this topic

In “Bitkom #quantensummit 2022”, experts and those who want to become one discussed ways to put quantum computers into practice in Germany and Europe.

(Photo: Bitkom)

The Bitkom #quantensummit Summit on May 11-12 (again “online only”) made it clear for a second time: quantum computing has become part of the overall landscape of high performance computing. “Magic,” if you can call it that, is receding in the discussions, as does the seemingly Olympic struggle to get the best and most qubits behind.

Pragmatism is the order of the day. The focus is on the question of how the vast technical and economic potential of quantum technology can be usefully integrated into industrial and economic processes and how it can be used in general in people’s daily lives.

“In these challenging times, resilience is required at all levels and quantum technology can help here,” says Franziska Brantner, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, in her welcome letter. Terms such as “technological supremacy” and “green quantum” in support of the 1.5 degree climate target have played an important role in various presentations. In other articles, we will soon examine these topics in more detail.

Supporting startups and stimulating investment capital

The focus of an online discussion from politics and business on the topic “Future prospects for quantum computing in Germany: how do we define success”? The challenge was to put Germany’s leading position in quantum physics and quantum technology research into industrial practice, and here in particular in the field of quantum computers.

“We are good at research, but despite significant improvements in this area, we still have very few companies implementing scientific findings in industrial practice,” says Professor Ina Schaeferdecker, Head of the Department of Digital Sovereignty and Innovation at the Federal Research Ministry. .

Marcus Pflitch, founder and CEO of startup Terra Quantum, agrees and specifically addresses the steps that could improve here: “It is the young startups that are causing the disruption. It is therefore necessary to work even harder to ensure that these top performers are provided with investment capital. Adequate. Improving access to investment capital is essential to technological sovereignty.”

Transformation into industry as a main task

Sebastian Lauber, senior director of technology and innovation at semiconductor manufacturer Infineon, interjects that there are now a slew of relevant and interesting start-ups, but a “marathon” is still a thing today. A critical component of this long-term well survival is the focus on critical application scenarios.

Heike Riel is IBM Fellow, Head of Science and Technology and President of IBM Research Quantum Europe at IBM Research.  She is responsible for leading the Department of Science and Technology's research agenda for scientific and technological breakthroughs in the areas of quantum computing, artificial intelligence physics, nanoscience, nanotechnology, precision diagnostics, and intelligent systems integration.
Heike Riel is IBM Fellow, Head of Science and Technology and President of IBM Research Quantum Europe at IBM Research. She is responsible for leading the Department of Science and Technology’s research agenda for scientific and technological breakthroughs in the areas of quantum computing, artificial intelligence physics, nanoscience, nanotechnology, precision diagnostics, and intelligent systems integration.

(Photo: IBM)

“We need applications that are relevant to the industry, addressing things like measurement and integrating classical high performance and quantum computing,” adds Heik Riel, head of science and research at the IBM Research Laboratory in Rochellecon, Switzerland. Professor Wolfgang Maurer, professor at the Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule in Regensburg and senior researcher at Siemens, agrees that “the transition to industry is the biggest challenge”.

Above all, Mauerer cautions not to forget about system integration in quantum computing initiatives. Only then will the advantages of quantum computing appear in high-computer devices such as medical imaging devices or digital industrial controls, a sector where German industry is known to have its greatest strength.

A controllable programming technology is required

In addition to directing the application, accessing programming to quantum computing is the second test of its future economic importance. “Quantum computing, which can only be used by quantum physicists, is useless,” says IBM expert Riel. Professor Maurer of Siemens called for a higher level of software abstraction, that is, a layer that hides the quantum physical processes on which a quantum computer depends in terms of software technology. Terra Quantum’s Pflitsch relies on Quantum as a Service to keep newcomers’ bottom line as low as possible.

For example, Terra Quantum presents a modular system of quantum circuits. If you understand their respective job descriptions, this is a higher programming language, so that the user doesn’t have to understand all the internal physical processes in circuits.

A “normal” programmer can access via the C++ SDK or the Python SDK. The foundation of quantum computing is roughly identical to what “Cirq” offers on Google.

Hybrid computational approach

Technologically speaking, the pragmatism described initially in the question of quantum computing presents itself as a hybrid computing approach in which classical high-performance computing and quantum computing tasks are implemented. This is demonstrated in a near-perfect way in the presentation by Terra Quantum, but also in presentations such as those of the Finnish-German company IQM: “The link between HPC and quantum computing forms the basis for the possibility of creating the latter in a commercial landscape”, says Jan Goetz, a quantum physicist Qualified and Currently IQM CEO” was held elsewhere at the Bitkom event.

What this means can be explained in technical detail by Terra Quantum. They work with so-called virtual qubits, that is, qubits simulated using classic high-performance computers.

However, physical quantum chips can also be integrated into such a system. In general, you have a hybrid architecture of classical processors – CPUs, GPUs, processors for artificial intelligence – and virtual quantum processors, with which classical algorithms and quantum algorithms can be processed simultaneously.

Process Integration in High Performance Computing

Back to the discussion topic on Day 1 of Bitkom #qantensummit 2022: “Future prospects for quantum computing in Germany: How do we define success”?

In the end, the question was not explicitly answered in the round of talks, but the answer was approached. And this answer can probably be summarized as follows: At least for the time being, quantum computing is not the “next big thing” that suddenly took over the technological and economic stage, but rather a process that is gradually introducing elements of quantum computing into the fast-growing field of integrated high-performance computing. Quantum computing is – if you will – “creepingly disruptive”.

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