Cloud Access to Integrated HPC and Quantum Data Centres is Key to the Future of Computation
Author: Allison Schwartz, VP Global Government Relations & Public Affairs at D-Wave
As governments around the globe assess infrastructure needs to address future computational necessities, there must be a holistic understanding of how to solve our most intricate problems, which means incorporating emerging technologies like quantum computing when building today’s infrastructure.
To better understand the technology infrastructure needs of tomorrow, it helps to look back. Just 16 years ago, then Google CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the term “cloud computing” at an industry conference. Since then, cloud computing has transformed how we work, live and play, in large part due to the integrated ecosystem of technologies that power it.
Cloud infrastructure is made up of several components, such as hardware, virtualization, storage, and networking components, each integrated with one another into a single architecture to support business and government operations. This integrated infrastructure is critical to allow businesses of all sizes access to cloud computing, since many companies do not have their own computational resources onsite. Today, public and private sector clouds are available to provide access to the needed technologies to help businesses achieve their goals and governments to achieve their mission objectives.
Just as the evolution of cloud infrastructure and cloud computing brought together a variety of different technologies to deliver new and innovative tools to businesses and governments, the future of computing must also integrate emerging technologies. Quantum computing is now at a stage where it can be integrated into high-performance computing (HPC) data centres to provide new quantum-hybrid application development to tackle more complex problems.
As governments around the globe assess infrastructure needs to address future computational necessities, there must be a holistic understanding of how to solve our most intricate problems, which means incorporating emerging technologies like quantum computing when building today’s infrastructure. A complete environment, one that provides integrated, cloud-based access to a variety of compute resources, will be critical to building near-term quantum hybrid applications, ensuring the latest innovations are available to tackle real-world problems at scale.
Increasing Demand for Integrated Data Centres:
The market for data centres that include quantum technology is competitive. A report from Atos and IQM found that of the 110 HPC centres worldwide surveyed, 76 percent of those plan on using quantum computing by 2023. Demand for using quantum computing was found to be the number one technology requirement in Europe and is in the top three technologies worldwide for the top 500 HPC data centres. The report confirmed the expected benefits of the introduction of quantum computers to include tackling new problems such as supply chain logistics or challenges related climate change (45 percent); and solving existing problems faster (38 percent) - while at the same time reducing computing costs (42 percent). Hybrid and cloud deployments are key as well. The report also found that 50 percent of those surveyed stated that a hybrid HPC architecture is top priority, but they also claim to have a lack of knowledge regarding how quantum computing will work alongside a classical HPC infrastructure. That’s where the work begins, governments should work with industry to establish the appropriate integrated environments.
Global Competition for Integrated Data Centres:
There is growing competition for quantum computing and data centres around the globe. In the United States, Google is building a quantum-specific data centre. Germany has announced a €650 million investment to move quantum from research to commercialization, and an integrated data centre is a part of those efforts. Germany currently has a few quantum systems, but while it is currently not integrated with classical HPC, the Forschungszentrum Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) has revealed intentions to integrate its HPC systems with quantum in the future. There is also a forecast for interoperability between HPC supercomputing with quantum computing included within the European Quantum Computing & Simulation infrastructure, and the aim for this program is to become a federated European infrastructure for hybrid classical-quantum computing.
The benefits of creating an integrated HPC + quantum computing infrastructure would position any region as a leader in use of the technology and provide increased access to computational power for a wide range of public and private users. Providing cloud access to these systems is essential for breaking down the barriers to use the systems, allowing enterprises of all sizes can reap the rewards of using the latest technology. Cloud access is also essential for talent development and innovation acceleration from start-ups that don’t have the capabilities to have on-site computational resources.
The Future of Computation is Quantum-Hybrid
As previously highlighted, quantum and classical computing technologies have complementary strengths that benefit applications, which is why quantum applications will likely always be hybrid. As powerful as today’s classical computing technologies may be, there is a need for new resources — quantum resources — to meet the demands of entrepreneurs and governments.
Quantum-hybrid applications provide the benefit of both classical and quantum resources to solve problems. A hybrid approach allows developers to exploit the powers of both and reap the benefits of the ongoing acceleration in quantum computing development. Integrated data centres will be essential to the acceleration of application development that tackles problems currently outside the reach of classical computers alone. Such quantum hybrid applications can be used for solving important initiatives such as emergency response, weather modeling, drug discovery, manufacturing, and supply chain optimization, just to name a few use cases.
Cloud service capabilities that provide access to classical supercomputers, quantum computers, and GPUs in an integrated data centre will establish one-stop, secure access to hardware and software. Acknowledgement of the importance of hybrid technology was highlighted in a Canadian government consultation report, where it stated an expressed interest and need to bridge classical and quantum computing with hybrid technology. A recent report from the Quantum Economic Development Consortium in the United States also highlighted that quantum hybrid approaches represent a way to potentially accelerate the near-term use of quantum computing.
D-Wave’s quantum cloud service, LeapTM, and its hybrid-solver service provide the tools for developers, enterprises and governments to begin to build quantum-hybrid applications to tackle hundreds of complex, real-world problems. From 3-D bin packing and other logistics to drug trials and energy use cases, there are a variety of optimization problems that can be solved on today’s quantum systems using quantum-hybrid solvers.
Not All Quantum Systems Are Alike, but All Should be Integrated with HPC
D-Wave is a leader in the development and delivery of quantum computing systems and is the only company building both annealing and gate-model quantum computers. Quantum annealing systems outperform other approaches when it comes to complex optimization problems. Gate-model quantum systems will be needed for other types of problems, especially those involving differential equations or some kinds of quantum simulations like quantum chemistry and material design. It’s the combination of quantum annealing and gate-model systems, along with classical machines, that will unlock the most value for users. And companies, like D-Wave, are already working on building cross-platform applications to better serve customers. All integrated data centres should include both annealing and gate-model systems to ensure the different computational tools are available for each individual use case.
“Future to Compute” Must Include Quantum & Cloud
As the United Kingdom looks at the needed infrastructure for its future computations needs, any and all “Future of Compute” work by the government must commit to integrating HPC + quantum within data centres. Not only should these different computations tools be integrated, but they should also be available via the cloud to ensure the domestic infrastructure is in place for the anticipated future computational needs of businesses and government. Cloud access breaks down barriers and provides necessary resources to small businesses, start-ups, and academia.
We can no longer think in a siloed fashion when it comes to computational needs. We must think holistically to bring the combined power of all available technologies to bear in solving our toughest problems, tapping into HPC, quantum computers (annealing and gate), and access via the cloud provides maximum impact.
Future of Compute Week 2022
During this week we will deep-dive into a number of themes that if addressed could develop our large scale compute infrastructure to support the UK’s ambitions as a science and technology superpower. To find out more, including how to get involved, click the link below
Laura is techUK’s Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation.
She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies, including Quantum Computing, High-Performance Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies, across the UK. As part of this, she works alongside techUK members and UK Government to champion long-term and sustainable innovation policy that will ensure the UK is a pioneer in science and technology
Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.
Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.
Rory joined techUK in June 2023 after three years in the Civil Service on its Fast Stream leadership development programme.
During this time, Rory worked on the Government's response to Covid-19 (NHS Test & Trace), school funding strategy (Department for Education) and international climate and nature policy (Cabinet Office). He also tackled the social care crisis whilst on secondment to techUK's Health and Social Care programme in 2022.
Before this, Rory worked in the House of Commons and House of Lords alongside completing degrees in Political Economy and Global Politics.
Today, he is techUK's Programme Manager for Emerging Technologies, covering dozens of technologies including metaverse, drones, future materials, robotics, blockchain, space technologies, nanotechnology, gaming tech and Web3.0.