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»Quantum System One«

IBM and Fraunhofer dedicate quantum computer

The IBM Quantum System One in Ehningen is the most powerful quantum computer in Europe to date.
© IBM Research

IBM and Fraunhofer inaugurated Germany's first quantum computer today in a live broadcast. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also made a statement. The supercomputer opens up new opportunities for research and industry in Germany and Europe.

»IBM Quantum System One« – that is the name of Germany's new supercomputer, which was installed in Ehningen in Baden-Württemberg in recent months. With 27 qubits, it is currently the most powerful quantum computer in Europe and is intended to serve application research for the industry. It can be used, for example, to perform complex calculations or error evaluations, opening up completely new possibilities for industrial companies in Germany.

Today it was officially inaugurated in the digital presence of personalities from politics, research, and industry. German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, herself a physicist with a doctorate, showed great interest in the new technology and emphasized the importance of such a supercomputer for Germany as a business and research location, and Baden-Württemberg in particular. With a little wink, she already »applied« for a job at Fraunhofer to do research with the new computer. However, she also warned that Germany must not lose touch with countries such as the USA or China.

Winfried Kretschmann, Minister President in Baden-Württemberg, is also certain: »Quantum technologies are the key to the future. Anyone who masters quantum technologies masters the two megatrends of our time: digitalization and decarbonization«. This is the key to economic prosperity and technological sovereignty. Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Minister of Economic Affairs in Baden-Württemberg, described her state as »Innovation State Number 1«. Her goal, she said, is for her state to be at the top in terms of value creation with quantum computing.

Expanding expertise

Some areas where quantum computing can open new doors include sustainable transportation, faster development of new materials or medicines, and more efficient analysis of complex financial flows. Until then, the challenge is to develop the quantum algorithms needed to do so. The researchers' goal now, in collaboration with industry, is to build and expand expertise and to try out quantum-based computing strategies with a view to applications. What is special about the new quantum computer is that all processed project and user data always remain in Germany and are subject to German data protection regulations.

»With our platform, we offer large corporations, SMEs, startups and research institutions the opportunity to build competencies and test new application possibilities and business models«, said Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

According to Dario Gil, senior vice president and director IBM Research, the system is stable, robust, and reliable. With a hybrid cloud architecture, it can run programs at very fast speeds.

Quantum System Two

The central point of contact for using the quantum computer is the Fraunhofer Competence Network Quantum Computing. The prerequisite for access to the computer is a user contract with Fraunhofer, and the pricing model is based on a monthly ticket. This also allows short-term, flexible access for testing and assessing the technology.

Quantum System One is intended to give industry and research organizations the opportunity to develop and test application-oriented quantum software under German law and to expand their competencies. Furthermore, the next step is already in sight: In the next few years, the IBM Quantum System Two should be available - with more than 1000 qubits.

The construction of Quantum System One, by the way, took place under extraordinary conditions. Since the IBM team from the USA could not travel to Germany, special arrangements were made. For example, they used video conferencing and training to explain the installation procedure to the German engineers in the IBM development lab. In doing so, they drew on remote maintenance techniques from NASA experts. Hand in hand, however, the team ultimately succeeded in completing the supercomputer within the targeted time.

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IBM Deutschland GmbH, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft e.V. Zentrale München