With universal quantum computers on the horizon, Atos has developed a simulation platform for programming the qubit-based machines.
According to Atos CEO Thierry Breton, this is the highest performing commercial quantum simulator in the world and reaffirms his company’s ambition to be an industry leader in this emerging technology.
“Quantum physics will lead to profound changes notably in cybersecurity, one of the key strategic priorities of businesses,” said Breton. “We must be planning for the impact of these today. The teams at our Atos Quantum laboratory have made remarkable progress, recognized and supported by an internationally renowned Scientific Council, to provide, today, scientists and engineers from around the world with a simulation environment which enables them to develop quantum algorithms to prepare for the major accelerations to come.”
The simulator, known as the Atos Quantum Learning Machine (QLM) runs on a “ultra-compact supercomputer,” which the company says is the size of a regular enterprise server. It comes in five power configurations, from 30 to 40 qubits and is equipped with “specific hardware components to accelerate specific quantum calculations and which can eventually be replaced by quantum accelerators.”
The simulator itself appears to be implemented in firmware, which abstracts the quantum model onto conventional digital hardware. It can be programmed in a language called aQasm, which stands for Atos Quantum Assembly Language. Although it is currently meant to be used by quantum computing researchers to develop applications and algorithms for the simulator, the hope is that it will eventually be used on actual quantum computers after they come online. Being an assembly language, aQasm enables programmers to access the low-level elements of a quantum computing system, in this case, the quantum gates.
One of the critical application areas for quantum computing is cybersecurity. Ironically, because these systems are particularly adept at factoring integers into their prime components (Shor’s algorithm), it would make current encryption algorithms obsolete, thus threatening the digital security that protects banks and the internet. According to Atos, one of the intended uses of this technology is develop algorithms that can’t be decrypted by quantum computers once they are built.