Xanadu Achieves Quantum Advantage with Boraelis
Quantum computational advantage with a programmable photonic processor made in Canada. (June 1st, 2022).
Quantum physicists (left to right) Fabien Rortais, Mohsen Falamarzi Askarani, Lars Madsen, Jonathan Lavoie and Fabian Laudenbach share a laugh at Xanadu Quantum Technologies Inc. in Toronto. Behind them is Borealis, one of the first quantum computers in the world to demonstrate an advantage over conventional computer systems.
Xanadu has demonstrated quantum computational advantage using Borealis, their newest photonic quantum computer. Xanadu Quantum Technologies Inc. is a Canadian quantum technology company, and one of the world's leading photonic quantum hardware providers.
Quantum Advantage Using Light
To understand their latest announcement, I suggest you watch the video here.
Some analysts and PR are calling this a new milestone in the world of quantum computing, in what is described as a “big leap forward” for the industry (Globe and Mail).
Today, enterprises and researchers can begin using Xanadu's photonic quantum computers through the Xanadu Quantum Cloud (XQC) service and Strawberry Fields application library.
Borealis by Xanadu
Borealis is the first photonic quantum computer offering full programmability of all its gates to demonstrate quantum computational advantage, and the first time that a machine capable of quantum advantage has been made available to the public in the cloud.
This achievement, recently published in Nature, is a significant milestone on the path to building a large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computer, and a pivotal step in Xanadu’s mission to build quantum computers that are useful and available to people everywhere. It’s also just great for Quantum computing awareness in Canada, as Toronto like I have suggested is on pace to become a significant hub in the technology.
What is Quantum Advantage
Quantum computational advantage is achieved when a quantum computer outperforms the world’s fastest supercomputers, running the best-known algorithms, on a well-defined task. Borealis synthesizes a quantum state of 216 squeezed-state qubits, entangled in three dimensions according to the user’s specified program.
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Xanadu has raised $135 million. In fact we recently covered them.
The company’s new quantum computer, Borealis, was able to perform a task in 36 millionths of a second, where today’s top computers would take around 9,000 years to complete it, according to a study recently published in Nature. Even LinkedIn covered the news.
Using direct simulation, the fastest supercomputer in the world would take approximately 9,000 years to generate a single such sample, compared to 36 microseconds for Borealis. This runtime advantage is more than 50 million times larger than that of earlier photonic demonstrations.
The company claims Boraelis represents a critical milestone on the path to a practical quantum computer, validating key technological features of photonics as a platform for this goal.
Xanadu has made Borealis, a programmable photonic quantum computer with 216 squeezed-state qubits that outperforms the best classical supercomputers at a specific task, available to people everywhere via Xanadu Cloud and Amazon Braket.
Borealis is a First
This demonstration marks the first time quantum computational advantage has been achieved in Canada, and also the first time anywhere by a startup company.
First quantum computational advantage in Canada.
First by a startup company anywhere.
Additionally, several technologies developed for this machine solve key challenges in the development of fault-tolerant quantum computers. Such computers have the potential to unlock computational power that will solve an array of intractable problems in fields as diverse as next-generation battery development, drug discovery, finance, and logistics.
Borealis is accessible to anyone with an internet connection over Xanadu Cloud, and will also be available via Amazon Braket, the fully managed quantum computing service from AWS.
This demonstration is similar to those performed by Google in October 2019 with their superconducting based device and also by the University of Science and Technology China (USTC) with their Gaussian Boson Sampler in December of 2020. That a startup is doing it just a few years later is impressive.
Quantum Advantage of Quantum Supremacy?
Quantum Advantage or Quantum Supremacy is today often used for a demonstration of running an algorithm beyond what a classical computer is capable of doing. Although we could debate the specifics.
The company also leads the development of PennyLane, an open-source software library for quantum computing and application development.
Only a handful of experiments have used quantum devices to carry out computational tasks that are outside the reach of present-day classical computers1,2,6,7. So it is exciting stuff that is occurring at Startups like Xanadu. There’s a growing realization of how quantum computing could change pharma, finance, material, space-tech, climate change, simulations and supply-chain with machine learning.
I find the language Xanadu uses pretty strong. The superconducting quantum supremacy demonstrations serve as crucial milestones on the path to full-scale quantum computation.
Commercialization of Borealis Processor
However Borealis, a 216 Squeezed-state Qubit Photonic Processor is now available. Xanadu the Toronto based quantum computing startup, has released their Borealis processor and has made it available on the Xanadu Cloud.
The architecture of the Borealis machine is interesting because it uses time-multiplexing to achieve the 216 qubits rather than creating specific hardware for each individual qubit. Borealis can be programmed using Xanadu’s Strawberry Fields software designed for constructing, simulating, and executing programs on photonic quantum computers.
You can learn more about the tech in their recent blog here.
“With Borealis on Amazon Braket, for the first time, any researcher or developer will be able to validate a claim of quantum advantage and evaluate how photonic quantum computing may eventually expand their choice of compute technologies, enabling them to innovate more quickly,” said Richard Moulds, General Manager of Amazon Braket at AWS.
Squeezing Light 20x Better than Last Iteration
With 216 squeezed-state qubits — almost twenty times more than X12, their recent previous cloud-ready system — Borealis is the largest photonic quantum computer ever built, and the first of its kind to ever be made accessible to the public.
Borealis is believed to be the largest photonic quantum computer ever build as of June, 2022, and the first of kinds to ever be made accessible to the general public.
I cannot verify that claim. The team at Xanadu continues to focus on the next monumental hurdle in quantum computing — achieving fault-tolerant quantum computation and developing industry-relevant applications.
The technical paper in Nature almost feels like a white-paper. The strategy of being first in the PR sounds like it was written with business development in mind. When evaluating the credibility of a startup, this tone is a bit concerning. PsiQuantum is maybe their biggest direct competitor.
Quantum Supremacy Benchmark
The quantum computing team at Google was the first to do so, in 2019 using their 53-qubit Sycamore superconducting circuit processor on a slightly different random sampling algorithm. That Xanadu have managed to replicate this even better with Borealis is very impressive.
Borealis broke through this barrier of quantum computational advantage, passing the test with flying colours and becoming the first computer capable of quantum computational advantage to be deployed on the cloud.
Keep it up!
Thanks for reading!