Honeywell reports that it is working on an architecture for quantum computing based on ion traps. A programmable quantum computer based on the architecture should appear in mid-2020.
The quantum computer Honeywell is working on has a quantum volume of 64. The term quantum volume was coined by IBM and is intended to give an indication of the actual performance of a quantum system, because only the amount of qubits says too little about the computing power. In addition to the amount of qubits, the connectivity between those qubits and the margins of error are also taken into account for the quantum volume.
High connectivity means that quantum algorithms run more efficiently and low margins of error mean that calculations are performed accurately. IBM’s Tenerife from 2017 with five qubits had a quantum volume of four, the Tokyo from 2018 with twenty qubits a volume of eight and the IBM Q Systems One from 2019, also with twenty qubits, a quantum volume of sixteen. It is unknown how many qubits Honeywell’s system has and whether IBM has higher volume quantum computers in the pipeline.
Honeywell does describe working with an arrangement of four qubits in a paper. The company uses qubits based on ion crystals, where the ions are physically transported between different crystals. The company refers to this as a quantum charge coupled device. According to Honeywell Quantum Solutions, the architecture is robust and scalable, meaning that the number of qubits can be expanded relatively easily, while retaining the good properties needed to perform calculations with them.
According to the team, the method makes it possible to significantly increase the quantum volume every year, at least for the next five years. Honeywell claims that more than a hundred engineers, scientists and software developers are working to increase quantum volume. The company also works with several partners to put the techniques into practice.
One of those partners is Microsoft, which will provide access to the quantum computer via the Microsoft Azure Quantum service. JP Morgan is also contributing, in the hope that a quantum computer can help with its financial services. Honeywell announced at the end of 2018 that it was developing its own quantum systems, which made the company seem late compared to competitors Google, Microsoft and IBM. In its own words, the company has been working for more than ten years on techniques that can be used for quantum systems, such as the necessary management systems. IBM and Google work with qubits based on superconductivity, Microsoft develops experimental topological qubits based on majoranas.
Honeywell’s quantum charge coupled device