During a meeting of the Governing Board of the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) on Oct 3–4, 2022, the board announced that the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre will become a European site for top-tier quantum computing and integrate this emerging technology into a classical supercomputer.
As one of the three national supercomputing centers of the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS), LRZ successfully applied for the European tender as Germany’s representative. The idea behind the "European Quantum Computing for Exascale-HPC" project, or Euro-Q-Exa for short, is to integrate quantum processors into traditional supercomputing in order to make the new computer technology more controllable and easier to use for application scientists.
A wide range of application scenarios from various research disciplines as well as from business interests and society at large will be researched with the help of Europe's quantum computer seated in Garching. The system is being purchased by the EuroHPC JU initiative. The project is funded by the EuroHPC JU, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Hightech Agenda of the Free State of Bavaria.
"These requirements by EuroHPC-JU fit perfectly with our strategy at LRZ, where we see quantum computing as an integrated part of high-performance computing: Quantum computers can only demonstrate their advantage closely coupled with supercomputers,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Schulz, member of the Board of Directors at LRZ and Professor of Computer Science at the Technical University of Munich “We have already developed a corresponding concept for the systems planned so far at the LRZ. With Euro-Q-Exa, we will go one step further and integrate the quantum software stack into the HPC nodes. This will significantly shorten latencies and optimize flexibility and efficiency in the use of quantum computing.”
Built on partnerships and synergies
Quantum computing as a technology is currently moving from the experimental stage to becoming available for a broader range of applications. Data centers around the world, including LRZ, are already testing the first quantum processors and making them available to their users. However, operating systems, development environments, software, and tools for controlling quantum processing units (QPUs) and for optimizing and controlling their computing performance are still lacking for widespread use.
To build the quantum computer, Europe called for a hybrid system in which quantum processors are integrated with a supercomputer in order to accelerate it while also controlling it within an HPC system. The LRZ can already build on practical experience as well as on results and synergies that its Quantum Integration Centre (QIC) is developing with partners from industry and academia in various research projects.
In an innovation partnership with hardware providers, Bavaria's leading academic computing center is also currently researching and developing the technology for an innovative exascale supercomputer capable of more than a quintillion computing operations per second (a trillion by European numbering standards). This system is supposed to feature quantum processors as well.
Step by step: Building the European quantum computer
The Euro-Q-Exa system will be realized in two steps. As early as 2023, the LRZ will make the quantum demonstrator Q-Exa, financed by the BMBF, available to European users. A 100-qubit system will then be added in further steps by 2026 via a classic public tender.
It is still uncertain which domain sciences will see the earliest advantages in leveraging quantum computing. Among the fields that hope to benefit, users from materials sciences, (molecular) chemistry and biology, and IT/security measures are among the best positioned to benefit from the technology at the beginning—in other words, research disciplines with previously unsolvable questions.
More information on the quantum computing activities of the LRZ and the QIC can be found at www.quantum.lrz.de.
This article originally appeared on the Bavarian Academy of the Sciences website (in German).