The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York has broken ground on its IBM Quantum System One which will be housed at the college campus.
The quantum computer is expected to be online by early 2024 and is part of the Curtis Priem Quantum Constellation, a research center funded by Curtis Priem, cofounder of Nvidia in 1993 and a graduate of RPI. A cloud computing service is already available.
The computer is powered by a 127-qubit IBM Quantum Eagle processor which can perform "utility-scale calculations." The system is kept at an operating temperature of 0.015 Kelvin in order to enable the qubits to maintain their quantum state. Towards the bottom of the chandelier is the quantum processor chip which holds the qubits and performs the calculations.
The quantum system is going to be housed in the Voorhees Computing Center (VCC) which was originally built as a chapel before being taken over by RPI as a facility building in the 60s. The quantum computer itself will be positioned next to a stained glass window.
The IBM system is the result of a $150 million investment, plans for which were first shared in July 2023, and will be used to aid research in healthcare, sustainability, artificial intelligence, and national security sectors. IBM has committed to upgrading the system in 2026.
According to Priem, quantum is more promising than other advanced computing options at the moment. “I’m not going to bet on AI, which feels like the dot com boom at this point; it’s like we have to have a different technology."
Marty Schmidt, president of RPI: “First, we need to determine what types of problems are best suited for a quantum computer.
"We believe that application space is vast and will include fields like drug discovery, modeling and predicting new materials, and financial risk modeling. But we need to explore these areas now. So that when we are ready for the higher-powered quantum computers, when they emerge, we can leverage that. But in addition, we need to integrate quantum computing into our curriculum, so that we are graduating students armed with the skills to utilize these powerful quantum computers in the future.”
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a technological research university encompassing five schools and over 30 research centers over two campuses in New York’s Rensselaer County and Hartford, Connecticut.
The university is already home to an 11 petaflops IBM Power9/Nvidia supercomputer known as Artificial Intelligence Multiprocessing Optimized System (AiMOS). Earlier this year, RPI partnered with Micron and 10 other universities across the US and Japan to create the University Partnership for Workforce Advancement and Research and Development in Semiconductors to help further research and upskill workers.
IBM announced plans to deploy another 127-qubit quantum computer with the Fundación Ikerbasque at its campus in San Sebastian, Spanish Basque Country, in March 2023. The company is hoping to develop a 4,000+ qubit quantum computer by 2025.