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April 11, 2022

What is New In Azure Quantum

We show you how to test real quantum computers for free thanks to Azure Quantum.

Since Microsoft launched Azure Quantum in February 2021 there have been some interesting developments on the platform. This time we are going to focus on how to deploy quantum algorithms on real computers at no cost.

Free Credits in Azure Quantum

On February 3, 2022, Microsoft announced its free credits program with no prior approval required. This program gives $500 USD to each quantum computing vendor subscribed to the program; currently, they are IonQ and Quantinuum.

To get the free credits just add the desired providers to your new or existing Quantum Workspace and select the Azure Quantum Credits pricing plan. It’s as simple as that. Credits expire after six months.

azure-quantum

If we need more credits, we can try to apply to Microsoft’s original free credit program to get up to $10,000.

Quantum Computing Providers

Currently, the quantum computers on which we can spend our free credits are as follows:

  • Quantinuum:
    • Quantinuum H1, powered by Honeywell: 10 qubits, quantum volume of  2048.
  • IonQ:
    • Trapped Ion QC: 11 qubits

Quantinuum is the merger of Cambridge Quantum and Honeywell Quantum Solutions.

Over the course of 2022, new vendors and quantum computers are expected to arrive:

  • Pasqal:
    • Based on neutral atoms (same number of electrons and protons)
  • Quantum Circuits Inc.
    • Based on superconductors

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  • Rigetti:
    • Based on superconductors
    • Aspen-11: 40 qubits
    • Aspen-M-1: 80 qubits
  • IonQ:
    • Based on trapped ions
    • Aria: 20 algorithmic qubits

azure-quantum

Te puedes registrar para tener acceso a la versión previa de QCI, Rigetti y Pasqal en el siguiente enlace.

You can register for access to the preview version of QCI, Rigetti, and Pasqal at the following link.

Development Tools

Another of the most important new features in Azure Quantum is the incorporation of new Software Development Kits (SDK) to develop quantum algorithms.

The Microsoft QDK (Quantum Development Kit) is the development kit that allows you to create and run quantum applications. Different languages and tools can be used to create a quantum application. Previously, purely quantum code had to be written in Q#, which was then often integrated with C# or Python code as host code.

azure-quantum

Currently, using Python as the language for the host code, other libraries can be used to write quantum code. The new possibilities are as follows:

  • Qiskit: the IBM SDK, includes numerous libraries for circuits, error control, chemistry, artificial intelligence, finance…
  • Cirq: the Google SDK, includes libraries such as OpenFermion (chemistry), TensorFlow Quantum and others.
  • Specific format supported by the hardware provider: for example, OpenQASM for Quantinuum or IonQ Json for IonQ.

This opens up the possibility of running quantum applications made for other platforms such as Google or IBM directly in Azure Quantum.

The integration is really simple. For example, a program written in Qiskit would only need to have the following added to it to run in Azure Quantum:

integration in azure quantum

Running code is easier than ever with the new addition of Jupyter Notebooks to the Azure portal:

workspace in azure quantum

Future Prospects

As we have seen, the platform is well-positioned in the market and is constantly adding new features in both software and hardware as different vendors evolve their technologies.

Peter Chapman, IonQ’s president, and CEO, recently announced that Azure Quantum will be the first platform through which its latest quantum computer, the IonQ Aria, will be accessible.

On the software side, a new programming language will soon be added to the list of those available on Azure Quantum: Quil (Quantum Instruction Language), developed by Rigetti.

And on the other hand, the evolution of quantum hardware continues to progress at a good pace. We are currently in the NISQ (Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum) era, which means that the quantum computers we have are difficult to scale due to noise or interference that disturbs qubits and produces decoherence of quantum states. Despite this, quantum computers have practically doubled their computational capacity annually over the last few years, thanks to evolutionary improvements in hardware and improvements in errors correction.

In parallel, work is being done to achieve more easily scalable quantum computers; in this regard, Microsoft announced on March 14, 2022, a major milestone for the construction of a topological qubit based on the so-called Majorana zero modes. Microsoft’s team of scientists has succeeded in creating Majorana zero modes at both ends of a nanowire, which allows the creation of a natural interference protection layer that will enable the possibility of isolating a qubit and drastically reducing decoherence errors. The only way to measure the quantum state of the qubit would be to read the combined state of both ends of the nanowire at the same time.

Gabriel Grajea
Author
Gabriel Grajea
Software Development Engineer

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