To design 20qubit Q System One, IBM assembled a team of industrial designers and manufacturers to work alongside IBM Research scientists and systems engineers, including UK industrial and interior design studios Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio and Goppion, a Milan-based manufacturer of high-end museum display cases that protect the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.
The resulting design is a 3m by 3m case of 1cm thick borosilicate glass forming a sealed, airtight enclosure. Although the system was officially launched at CES on Tuesday, echoing the launch of the IBM PC, the Q System One is more like an early mainframe computer.
A series of independent aluminium and steel frames decouple the system’s cryostat, control electronics and exterior casing, helping to isolate the system components for improved performance. The hardware is designed to be stable and auto-calibrated to give repeatable and predictable high-quality qubits.
Quantum firmware manages the system health and enable system upgrades without downtime for users, and a classical computer provides secure cloud access and hybrid execution of quantum algorithms.
"The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing," said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research. "This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science."
In the second half of 2019 IBM will open the Q Quantum Computation Centre in Poughkeepsie, New York to expand IBM’s commercial quantum computing program. The Poughkeepsie site was key to the development of IBM's first line of production business computers in the 1950s, the IBM 700 series, and the IBM System/360 in the1960s.