First advanced quantum processing unit delivered to GENCI and CEA

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QPU Pasqal
Photo: Pasqal

A 100+ qubit quantum processing unit (QPU), acquired by GENCI (Grand Équipement National de Calcul Intensif), was delivered at TGCC, the CEA computing centre.

As the first QPU to be delivered to a third party by Pasqal, a global company providing neutral atom quantum computing, the milestone is part of the broader High-Performance Computer and Quantum Simulator hybrid (HPCQS) project, co-funded by the European HPC Joint Undertaking, along with GENCI, in the field of HQI (France Hybrid HPC Quantum Initiative), supported by the France2030 investment programme.

Pasqal’s QPU will be integrated with GENCI’s supercomputer, Joliot-Curie, which is hosted and operated by CEA at TGCC, marking an advance in hybrid computing capabilities in Europe. The TGCC environment has high-performance scientific computing and Big Data capabilities, making it an ideal home for one of the first quantum computers designed to operate in tandem with supercomputers. The integration of the analog quantum computers with supercomputers will allow European and French researchers to work on hybrid use cases and to experiment on actual hardware.

Philippe Lavocat, CEO of GENCI, said: “this delivery milestone marks a major first in France towards the commissioning of a cold atom quantum machine soon hybridized with our supercomputer, in the service of science, knowledge and innovation. This first also reflects a strong commitment on the part of France and Europe, through EuroHPC and the HPCQS project, to make quantum technologies a strategic and sovereign tool. GENCI is very proud of this efficient partnership with the CEA, and to be one of Pasqal’s first customers!”

Jacques-Charles Lafoucriere, programme director at CEA and coordinator of the France Hybrid HPC Quantum Initiative (HQI) added: “This delivery will allow HPC and quantum computing communities to complete their work with emulators with real computations on real hardware. All our users are eager to use Pasqal’s Orion system and to demonstrate all the results they will get from it.”

Pasqal’s co-founder and CEO, Georges-Olivier Reymond, said: “Delivering our first QPU to CEA is a landmark that underscores our commitment to accelerating the integration of quantum computing into mainstream technology sectors. By harnessing the synergies between quantum computing and classical HPC environments, we are paving the way for breakthroughs that were previously beyond reach. This achievement also marks the historic debut of Pasqal’s quantum computing technology in the hands of a customer, which speaks to the strength and dedication of our team.”

In the context of HPCQS, another QPU will also be installed in Germany at Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) and coupled with the JURECA supercomputer. Both systems will form the embryo of a pan European hybrid HPC + quantum computing infrastructure soon to be completed by other various European quantum computing technologies funded by EuroHPC JU and Member States, open to all European users to start exploring concretely the potential of quantum computing on their applications.

Moving towards practical quantum applications

The collaboration between Pasqal, GENCI and CEA provides scientific and industrial users with combined capabilities for intensive and quantum computing (HPC+QC). It is set to revolutionize areas ranging from pharmaceuticals to energy, leveraging quantum computations to enhance complex data processing and simulation tasks. The integration of Pasqal’s quantum technology with TGCC’s supercomputing resources aims to develop practical applications that address real-world challenges through enhanced computational capabilities.

Analog quantum computing, a product of this HPC-QC integration, is particularly suitable to promote optimization workloads and the simulation of physical systems. Such optimization has numerous practical applications in the banking industry, logistics, transportation, energy grid management, and many others.

Enhancing research and industry capabilities

The HPCQS project is advancing, with the integration of the QPU into the existing supercomputer infrastructure already under way. CEA and Pasqal have worked with EVIDEN to leverage EVIDEN’s Qaptiva environment to integrate the QPU with the HQI platform. The objective of this integration is to allow end-users to programme their hybrid code and to send it to Joliot-Curie, which will then offload the quantum code to the Pasqal system via Qaptiva.

The acquisition of Pasqal’s QPU is an essential part of CEA and GENCI’s collaborative work on the France Hybrid HPC Quantum Initiative (HQI). This initiative aims to deploy a hybrid HPC-QC platform coupling several quantum technologies with a classical supercomputer for the benefit of open research. HQI also includes an academic and industrial research program that focuses on this HPC-QC integration, the development of hybrid applications and exploratory topics like noise characterization and the mitigation and use of quantum links for computing.

Jim Cornall is editor of Deeptech Digest and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.