In her 18 years as a competitive figure skater, Bettina Heim has learned to land a lutz with speed and grace. Now armed with a doctorate. in quantum computing, she is helping Microsoft Azure Quantum carve out a place at the forefront of cloud services.
“I’ve always been drawn to interesting problems and worked hard to achieve a goal,” said Heim, senior director of software engineering at Microsoft. “That’s why I was drawn to quantum computing, where there is huge potential to benefit society by creating a completely new tool beyond today’s classical systems.”
Last winter, Azure Quantum — in collaboration with Quantinuum, Quantum Circuits Inc., Rigetti Computing, and Oak Ridge National Lab — demonstrated how classical and quantum systems can work together to solve big problems, a capability it aims to offer to any cloud user.
To achieve this, it embraces tools like NVIDIA QODA, an open, universal programming environment that will bridge GPUs and quantum processors in future hybrid systems.
“QODA will help us take the next step by providing robust integration of very different systems and development tools,” said Heim, a Swiss national now based in Seattle.
Quantum Software Foundation
The establishment of software bases for quantum computers is at the heart of the QIR Alliance chaired by Heim.
The industry group oversees work on a common interface between quantum programming languages and targeted quantum computers. QIR enables developers to use tools like QODA to build applications that run on hybrid quantum computers to accelerate scientific discovery.
This is a huge leap forward for a sector where developers are used to writing the equivalent of assembler programs that directly deal with the specifics of each system.
“It’s important to have tools that don’t require in-depth knowledge of quantum systems, so we’re collaborating with companies like NVIDIA to engage and inspire a wide range of developers,” she said.
“QODA and cuQuantum offer a huge edge in the field by leveraging classic HPC resources for quantum development,” she added, referring to NVIDIA cuQuantum, a software library for running simulations of quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems.
A growing quantum ecosystem
The collaboration with Microsoft to extend the QIR ecosystem and integrate NVIDIA’s toolset with Azure Quantum is one of many. Dozens of companies are adopting cuQuantum to accelerate quantum research on today’s classical computers and QODA to program tomorrow’s classical-quantum hybrid systems.
For example, Rigetti Computing will allow developers to use QODA to program its superconducting quantum computers. And software specialist Classiq will use QODA to optimize the performance of its quantum algorithms.
The companies join quantum hardware vendors IQM Quantum Computers, Pasqal, Quantinuum, Quantum Brilliance and Xanadu, which announced collaborations using QODA in July. They support a wide range of qubit technologies that reinforce QODA’s role as a unified platform enabling all quantum-classical hybrid systems.
In addition, QODA is supported by software vendors QC Ware and Zapata Computing and four supercomputing centers: Forschungszentrum Jülich, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and RIKEN in Japan.
Industrial Research Mounts cuQuantum
Meanwhile, applications for quantum circuit simulations on cuQuantum are growing.
BMW Group identified more than 40 automotive use cases for quantum computing in an article last year. This year, he used cuQuantum’s cuStateVec library as part of his work on a benchmark for quantum applications.
The automaker hosted a global challenge in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to show how quantum systems can solve the industry’s toughest optimization, AI and materials science problems. A sign of the great enthusiasm for technology, the challenge attracted 70 teams.
In Japan, the Fujifilm Informatics Research Laboratory is using cuQuantum to build quantum circuits with startup blueqat. The collaboration aims to create large-scale quantum circuit simulations to accelerate Fujifilm’s R&D.
Developers can use cuQuantum to create accurate simulations of hundreds of qubits on a single NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPU and thousands of qubits on a supercomputing cluster.
Quantum grows in the cloud
Oracle Cloud Services will allow developers to create quantum circuit simulations on GPUs. It makes available on Oracle Cloud Marketplace the cuQuantum DGX Appliance, a container with all the necessary components to run cuQuantum jobs and provide multi-node functionality
Similarly, AWS announced the availability of cuQuantum in its Braket service. He also demonstrated on Braket how cuQuantum can deliver up to 900x speedup on quantum machine learning workloads.
Consulting firms are also showing the potential of accelerated quantum computing with NVIDIA software.
AI gets a quantum boost
Deloitte will use cuQuantum and QODA to take natural language processing to new heights in customer service. It will use high-dimensional datasets to allow systems to interpret complete sentences.
In other projects, he will explore how cuQuantum can accelerate drug discovery and solve complex optimization problems in structured medical data.
The R&D group of SoftServe, a global IT consulting and services company, uses cuQuantum in several application areas, including drug discovery and emergency logistics optimization. It also runs the software in quantum simulations of finance such as predicting stock price trends and automating financial portfolio management.
The research efforts join those of existing collaborators, including Google Quantum AI and IonQ, who announced support for cuQuantum when it launched in late 2021.
Learn more about GTC
Learn more by watching the GTC sessions which provide an overview of quantum accelerated supercomputing, its ecosystem and its applications in the pharmaceutical industry.
And for the big picture, watch the GTC keynote from NVIDIA Founder and CEO Jensen Huang below.