Fujitsu claims 'major technical milestone' in quantum simulation

Uses 64-node cluster of classical HPC boxen to prove it

Fujitsu says it has developed the world's fastest quantum simulator capable of handling 36 qubit quantum circuits. The firm will use this to speed development of quantum applications, and said it is already planning a further simulator capable of handling more qubits.

The unnamed simulator was built using a 64-node cluster of PRIMEHPC FX 700 boxen, which run Fujitsu's own A64FX 64-bit Arm chip – the same processor as used in its Fugaku supercomputer that was itself ranked as the fastest in the world.

Each PRIMEHPC FX700 node has a 48-core A64FX Arm chip and 32GB of high-bandwidth HBM2 memory stacked directly on top of the CPU, and the nodes are interconnected using an InfiniBand EDR / HDR100 fabric.

According to Fujitsu, this system can achieve approximately double the performance of other quantum simulators in 36 qubit operations when running the Qulacs quantum simulator software. Qulacs was developed by Osaka University and quantum developer QunaSys Corporation for fast simulation of large quantum circuits, and is available under the MIT licence from GitHub.

However, the system can also be used with other quantum development tools, in particular IBM's Qiskit, which was developed to enable developers to build and test applications using quantum gates and a variety of pre-built circuits in its IBM Quantum Lab cloud service.

Earlier this week, IBM disclosed it was working with HSBC bank to explore potential applications for quantum computing in financial services.

Fujitsu also said it is working with QunaSys to bring the company's quantum chemical calculation software Qamuy to the quantum simulator with the aim of speeding up a wide variety of quantum chemical calculations.

The quantum simulator will serve as an important bridge towards the development of quantum computing applications that are expected to deliver some practical benefits in the years ahead, Fujitsu said. The simulator's first use will be as part of a joint research project between Fujitsu and Fujifilm Corporation into quantum computing applications in the field of materials science.

Fujitsu Chief Technology Officer Vivek Mahajan said the company aims to put the quantum simulator to good use for Fujitsu customers to accelerate the development of quantum applications "and ultimately contribute to a sustainable world by solving a range of issues facing society."

This echoes themes discussed at the firm's ActivateNow: Technology Summit in January, where Fujitsu said it was working on delivering significant advances in compute power by integrating quantum computing with traditional HPC technology, and said it expected this to be widely available by 2030.

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Fujitsu's approach to quantum development can be compared with that of Dell, which has been working with quantum startup IonQ to put into operation a hybrid classical-quantum system that combines simulated and real quantum processors to provide a simple path from experimenting with quantum applications to moving them into production.

IonQ noted that for a small number of qubits, a simulator can be faster than an actual quantum processor. However, the length of time and the amount of memory required for a simulator to process a quantum circuit increases exponentially with the number of qubits, while it only increases linearly for the quantum computer.

Fujitsu said it is now going to accelerate its quantum efforts and aims to build a 40 qubit simulator by September 2022. It also plans to conduct joint research and development of quantum applications with customers in fields including finance and drug discovery in future. ®

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