Quantum computer build via quantum open architecture
Marten Arthers
CPO
June 12, 2024
5
minutes to read

Quantum Open Architecture: The Evolution From Academia to Industry

Introduction to Quantum Open Architecture

Welcome to our blog series, "Building the Future: Insights into Quantum Open Architecture." In this series, we explore the journey of quantum open architecture, highlighting its evolution, the role of specialisation, and future advancements. In our first article, we delve into the transition from academia to industry, a pivotal shift that set the stage for modern quantum computing.

Early Development in Academia 

Quantum computing began in academic labs where researchers developed full-stack quantum systems which utilise quantum mechanics to perform calculations. These academic groups were vertically integrated, meaning they built everything from the ground up, including qubits, control hardware, and even cryogenic fridges. As a result, this approach allowed researchers to control every aspect of their experiments, leading to many early breakthroughs.

However, the complexity and cost of building full-stack systems limited scalability and hindered broader industrial applications. Researchers often had to make significant compromises due to resource constraints, slowing down progress and innovation. Despite these challenges, academic efforts laid a solid foundation for the field, demonstrating the potential of quantum computing and inspiring further exploration.

Academic institutions, such as MIT and Delft University of Technology, were at the forefront of these efforts. Their foundational achievements demonstrated the feasibility of quantum computation but also highlighted the limitations of vertically integrated models. As the system sizes scaled, the engineering challenges became too big for individual academic groups to tackle. This was due to the increasing complexity of integrating various specialised components. These tasks required more diverse expertise and resources than a single group could provide.

Transition to Specialised Industrial Components

The shift from academia to industry saw the emergence of specialised companies. Above all, specialisation allowed for the development of higher-quality components and accelerated innovation. This transition was heavily enabled by advancements from companies like Bluefors. Founded in 2008, Bluefors started providing essential cryogenic refrigerators for quantum experiments. Consequently, this marked a significant step toward commercial quantum computing. 

Initially, companies such as Rigetti Computing developed their own control hardware, integrating it into their full-stack quantum systems. However, with the advent of specialised players such as Qblox and Quantum Machines, the focus has shifted. These new companies are now providing more specialised control hardware solutions. This enhances the performance and scalability of quantum computers, allowing other firms to concentrate on their core strengths.

Several years later, in 2021, QuantWare joined the market as the first provider of quantum processing units (QPUs), the brain of a quantum computer. Thus, these specialised companies began to focus on perfecting individual components, making it feasible to assemble more advanced and reliable quantum systems. This shift to quantum open architecture enabled various companies to contribute their expertise, leading to more efficient and scalable solutions.

Shift to Commercialisation

The commercial quantum computing era began with the emergence of specialised companies such as Bluefors in 2008. This marked the beginning of the move towards quantum open architecture, where different companies focused on specific components.

The rise of commercial quantum computing entities allowed for more rapid advancements and scalability. As a result, companies like ParTec, which specialises in system integration, have played a crucial role in advancing quantum technologies. ParTec collaborates with various quantum hardware and software providers to create cohesive, functional quantum systems. This shift highlights the benefits of specialisation and collaboration, making advanced quantum technologies accessible to a broader audience.

Examples of Companies Pushing Quantum Open Architecture

  • QuantWare: Entered the market in 2021, focusing on the development of QPUs, which are core components for quantum systems. QPUs act as the "brain" of the quantum computer. QuantWare keeps pushing the boundaries of what is possible using different scaling mechanisms to make more and more qubits available.
  • Bluefors, Maybell: Provide cryogenic refrigerators essential for quantum experiments. They play a crucial role in the infrastructure of quantum computing. Their technology maintains the ultra-low temperatures required for the stable operation of qubits. This way, these companies enable the integration and functionality of quantum components.
  • Qblox, Quantum Machines, Zurich Instruments: Specialise in control hardware and software, offering precise and reliable solutions for managing quantum operations. In other words, these companies provide the necessary tools to interface and control the quantum processors. They ensure seamless integration and optimal performance of quantum systems.
  • QuantrolOx: Provides software solutions that optimise the performance and integration of quantum systems. These solutions are important for enabling the efficient cooperation of different quantum computer components. Ultimately, they enhance the overall system functionality.
     
  • Delft Circuits: Develops cryogenic cabling used in quantum computers. These are essential for maintaining the low temperatures needed for quantum experiments. Within the quantum open architecture framework, Delft Circuits’ cryogenic cabling ensures the efficient transfer of signals and maintains the proper conditions for qubits to function optimally.
  • ParTec, Treq: As System Integrators, these companies collaborate with the rest of the quantum ecosystem to bring a fully functional quantum system to life for an end customer.

These specialised quantum players exemplify the open architecture paradigm. Each company specialises in critical components. Our combined expertise and innovations create a cohesive ecosystem where quantum systems can be built more efficiently. This collaborative approach not only drives technological advancements but also makes quantum computing more accessible and scalable.

Conclusion

The evolution from vertically integrated academic efforts to a specialised, collaborative industrial approach has been crucial for the advancement of quantum computing. This transition has paved the way for modern quantum open architecture. Specifically, it enabled companies to innovate and develop quantum computing systems more efficiently. As we move forward, this foundation will continue to support significant breakthroughs and the broader adoption of quantum technologies.

By embracing specialisation and collaboration, the quantum computing industry can achieve new heights, driving innovation and making quantum technologies accessible to a wider range of users. This journey from academia to industry underscores the importance of open architecture in shaping the future of quantum computation.