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Connecting a Quantum Computer with a Supercomputer: What Kind of Cryogenic Measurements Solutions are Required?

High-performance computing (HPC) is key to addressing some of the most challenging problems facing the world today. Scientists, business leaders and governments all use HPC to better understand complex global issues and develop potential solutions.

However, the sometimes urgent need to handle exponentially increasing amounts of data puts constant pressure on HPC centers. So how can they innovate and stay ahead of the curve?

One way is to incorporate quantum computing into HPC infrastructure.

Over the next few years, quantum computers are poised to become more advanced and more powerful. However, unlike conventional computing — or even supercomputing — most quantum computer technologies demand extremely cold temperatures near absolute zero to function.

This is why cryogenics are an essential and integral part of any quantum ecosystem. Cryogenic measurement systems cool the quantum devices down to a few kelvin, and even down to millikelvin temperatures for some quantum technologies. This is to ensure the creation of stable, scalable quantum systems that offer increased reliability and predictability for new applications — such as converged HPC-QC infrastructure.

So what might a converged HPC-QC system look like?

The Cryogenic Heart of HPC-QC​ Infrastructure

To connect a quantum computer with a supercomputer, you need efficient cryogenic measurement solutions that offer superior thermal management and handle the extremely low temperatures required for quantum computer operations. As explained by Dr. David Gunnarsson, Chief Technology Officer at Bluefors, cryogenics are essential for quantum-based data centers.

In HPC-QC infrastructure, cryogenic measurements solutions serve two vital functions:

1. Cooling components of the QC system

Cryogenics deals with the production of very low temperatures and plays an important role in a converged HPC and QC infrastructure.​ Cryogenic measurement systems are used to provide and maintain the ultra-low temperatures necessary to enable the user to harness the quantum effects for quantum computation.

2. Signal conditioning

As well as providing cooled quantum devices, the cryogenic measurement systems also need to be able to control and capture the results from the quantum system. To do this, components such as sensitive amplifiers, filters, and data acquisition systems must all be designed to function reliably at cryogenic temperatures.

High-Performance Computing and Quantum Computing (HPC-QC) in practice

Bluefors works with the quantum community to enable the successful integration of QC as a disruptive new technology in a wider HPC context. In 2022, Bluefors’ technology partner, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finlandconnected their quantum computer HELMI with the pan-European supercomputer LUMI, hosted by CSC – IT Center for Science. This was the first time a hybrid HPC-QC service was offered to researchers in Europe.

We spoke with Dr. Joonas Govenius, Research Team Leader of the Quantum Hardware team at VTT, about the value chain of the quantum industry and the challenges faced:

VTT’s aim is to identify breakthrough technologies and develop them further, from academic proof-of-principle experiments to a level of maturity where industrial players become interested. VTT commissioned one of the early Bluefors cryostats in 2011, and since then acquired other systems. These are all in active operation and form the backbone of our cryogenic characterization capabilities. In practice, Bluefors’ systems are a vital enabler in quantum computing as cold temperatures are required to keep qubits stable.”

The Quantum Future of High-performance Computing

HPC-QC is an emerging field, but it’s clear that quantum computing offers enormous potential to accelerate HPC systems. In the short term, existing cryogenic measurement systems, such as those offered by Bluefors, already deliver groundbreaking advantages. But as quantum computers become larger and more powerful, with qubits numbering in the thousands, how will systems evolve?

Turning to the future, Dr. Joonas Govenius sees further developments and refinements in HPC-QC systems:

We will likely need a new paradigm for transferring signals between the cryogenic quantum processing unit and parts of the system that are outside the cryostat. I think this will involve a combination of high-bandwidth data transfer based on optical fibers and reduced bandwidth per qubit requirements, enabled by more advanced cryogenic signal processing circuitry inside the cryostat.”

Dr. David Gunnarsson elaborates:

“Improving the quality of quantum bits remains a difficult challenge for quantum computing, particularly when scaling to larger numbers of quantum bits. Nevertheless, the eventual increase in the scale of quantum computers will also bring about many engineering advances in the other parts of the system, such as control electronics and the cryogenics.”

Cryogenic Measurement Solutions for a Converged HPC-QC Infrastructure

Bluefors’ cryogenic measurement systems already support converged HPC-QC infrastructure, offering the cooling and the cryogenic measurement infrastructure to deliver all the benefits of quantum systems to high-performance computing.

For example, Bluefors’ KIDE Cryogenic Platform makes this possible today. The system can house more than 1 000 qubits using current technology, and its hexagonal shape was designed to be expanded into clusters of chambers, ready for the future.

If you are interested in knowing more about our newest and largest cryogenic measurement system, watch our webinar introduction of KIDE. And if you’d like to discuss the implementation of cryogenic measurement systems in an HPC-QC infrastructure, contact our Sales Engineers.

Watch the HPC-QC webinar: Creating the Blueprint for a Converged HPC-QC Infrastructure with Dr. David Gunnarsson (Bluefors), Dr. Yonatan Cohen (Quantum Machines), and Sam Stanwyck (Nvidia).