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Supercomputing in the Quantum World

Posted on September 1, 2021 by Gento

Research I supercomputing can be found here, but also in the quantum realm.  This blog from Raritan explores advancements in equipment that processes qubits instead or regular bytes. 

In a recent post from this blog titled Deploying High Density Rack Power to Support HPC in Higher Education, we addressed the challenges faced by Research I universities when deploying high-density data-center applications that support HPC and supercomputers. High Performance Computing (HPC) equipment is at the top of the mountain in terms of power capacity needs, some edging into the territory of 50-70 kW/rack, yet their need for redundancy is on the low end of the Tier scale. This equipment is typically focused on applying computing power to solving mathematical research problems best solved by statistical or permutable number crunching involving bits of data. 

Shifting to the Quantum World 

What if the question you are trying to solve is less, say, concrete in nature? What if your research interest resides in the subatomic or quantum realm, and that a binary I and O approach to your work will not suffice? In a recent research study published in the journal Nature, and handily summarized by the science news site SciTechDaily, a team of researchers from MIT and Harvard have pushed the envelope in the subatomic world with a quantum computer capable of processing instructions at 256 quantum bits, or qubits, per second. 

For readers who remember when 256K was a breakthrough, prepare to have your mind scrambled. 

A qubit is the designation for the building block on which quantum computers do their processing work. Just as an HPC or supercomputer processes bytes of data, expressed as I and O, or on and off, a quantum computer uses a qubit, which is best thought of as a byte with dimension. Instead of being simply an I or an O, a qubit can be understood as the I and O existing in multiple states and locations simultaneously. 

Since questions in the quantum world revolve around our understanding of matter, it is best to think of the I and O bit in this example based on what you know about atoms. Atoms can be positively or negatively charged and can move in a particular direction. When trying to understand a qubit, imagine that your I is positively charged and your O is spinning in a northeasterly vector. A qubit expresses all these things happening in a simultaneous fashion, and a quantum computer can provide projections and analysis on predictive states of matter when all of the I’s and O’s collide. Clear as mud, right? 

A Quantum Leap 

The net (and with our apologies to any quantum physicists we just offended) is that qubits are, literally and figuratively, a quantum leap ahead in computing and processing. They are light years ahead in terms of technology, and their processing promise has captured the attention and support of the largest hyperscalers including Google and Microsoft. They are the reason that soon research academicians will be using terms like ‘coherent state,’ “phase matter,’ and ‘equilibrium’ in the context of the results provided by their computing clusters. 

Contact us to learn more about how we are supporting academic research and computing in the quantum world.

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