IBM is at the forefront of quantum computing tech

In the sprawling landscape of technological innovation, few frontiers are as tantalising—or as complex—as quantum computing. At the forefront of this revolution stands IBM, a company with the greatest number of quantum machines in the world.
Jay Gambetta, IBM fellow and VP of IBM Quantum, is one of the experts at the helm of the ambitious endeavour to build the most sophisticated quantum computers.“We’ve been working on quantum itself for a long time. Actually, IBM dates back to the early creations of quantum information,” Gambetta explains.
The journey began in earnest in 2016 when IBM placed a quantum computer on the cloud, making it accessible to researchers and enthusiasts worldwide. Since then, the company has built over 70 quantum computers, with about 20 continuously available through cloud access. The impact has been significant: users have run approximately 3.2 trillion quantum circuits, resulting in some 3,000 scientific papers, says Gambetta.
These aren’t your typical computers. Gambetta describes them as superconducting qubit-based machines that operate at temperatures “a thousand times colder than outer space.” Their latest reliable quantum chip boasts around 100 qubits and can perform up to 15,000 gates—quantum operations that manipulate the qubits.
But the hardware is only part of the story. The real challenge, according to Gambetta, lies in making these powerful machines useful and accessible. “How do you actually make them easier to use? How do you create the software? How do you create the mixing of classical and quantum together?”
The future, as Gambetta sees it, isn’t about quantum replacing classical computing. Instead, he envisions a world where “bits, neurons, and qubits” work in concert, with CPUs, GPUs, and QPUs (quantum processing units) functioning as an integrated system.
This vision is already taking shape. IBM has built its first quantum data centre in the US, with a second underway in Europe. They’ve also installed systems in local data centres in Japan, Canada, Spain, and at the Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical centre in the US, with plans for one in South Korea and a second installation in Japan.
However, the path to widespread adoption is fraught with challenges. “It’s the first time the actual model of computation has changed,” Gambetta notes. This paradigm shift means that even basic mathematical operations function differently in the quantum realm.
“How do you debug a quantum computer? Even answering that question is a really hard technical challenge because you can’t just go in the middle of a quantum computation and stop it, because then you kill all the quantum coherences (the qubits are sensitive and can get scrambled easily).”
To bridge this gap, IBM created Qiskit, an open-source quantum computing framework. It’s become a cornerstone for quantum educa tion and development, with India emerging as the second-largest user base globally.
As quantum computing inches closer to practical applications, the need for skilled professionals grows. Gambetta emphasises the importance of a blend of mathematical prowess and coding skills. “We’re at the stage where we’re actually rewriting how computing is done,” he says, underscoring the unique opportunity this presents for aspiring quantum engineers.
Looking ahead, Gambetta says IBM’s roadmap aims for quantum error correction machines by 2029, a milestone that would allow for quantum computations involving hundreds of qubits and billions of gates. Yet, Gambetta is quick to point out that the timeline for industrywide adoption remains uncertain. “The uncertainty of when this is going to have a huge inflection in the industry depends on when the algorithms are discovered,” he explains.
The people that discover the algorithms will end up creating their own companies, adds Gambetta. “That’s what happened in the classical computing world.”
In India, IBM’s quantum team has been actively collaborating with academic institutions and government bodies, contributing to the national quantum mission. “The biggest thing is the ecosystem work we have done,” Gambetta notes, highlighting the importance of bridging academia, industry, and government in advancing quantum technologies.
As the quantum computing landscape continues to evolve, one thing is clear: the race is on to harness this transformative technology. With IBM at the forefront, the quantum future may be closer than we think— a future where the once-impossible becomes routine, reshaping industries and pushing the boundaries of human knowledge.


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