The quantum computer HELMI has been connected with the pan-European supercomputer LUMI. The connection to Europe’s most powerful classical supercomputer enables the best possible use of the quantum computer’s computing power.
CSC - IT Center for Science, Aalto University and Finnish research and technology organisation VTT recently announced this unique connection between these compters, which both became operational in 2021. It's the first time in Europe that this kind of hybrid service connecting a supercomputer and a general-purpose quantum computer is opened for researchers.
The successful connection of HELMI (“Pearl”) and LUMI (“Snow”) paves the way to a future where quantum computers and traditional high-performance computers work together, solving those most difficult of problems that neither can solve alone. Integrating HELMI with LUMI enables hybrid computing projects and boosts the development of the required quantum algorithms and software. From here, an understanding about the potential of this technology for solving real-world use-cases will arise.
“VTT wants to do applied research using the quantum computer and learn more about these possibilities. We see great potential in quantum computing for accelerating innovation for the benefit of companies and the whole society. We will continue to build bigger and more powerful quantum computers, which will also become available for users through the same gateway”, says Pekka Pursula, Research Manager at VTT.
“LUMI is now the most powerful quantum-enabled supercomputing infrastructure in the world, in addition to being a leading platform for artificial intelligence. This means that we have all the drivers of the future of computing seamlessly integrated and ready to be utilized”, notes Pekka Manninen, Director of LUMI.
While supercomputers are immensely powerful by themselves, some types of problems can only be solved faster, more accurately, or using less energy when partially solved on quantum computers. These problems include developing new products and materials for example in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and battery industries. Quantum machine learning will take artificial intelligence to new heights. Thanks to the combined computing power, machine learning applications for generating novel molecular structures based on existing molecular data could be faster and more accurate, speeding up significantly the process of new material design. Optimisation of supply chains, travel routes, and portfolio management are also high on the list of future applications exhibiting so-called quantum advantage, where quantum-accelerated high-performance computing surpasses the capacity of classical supercomputers alone.
Some of the first concrete advantages can be expected in areas where high accuracy and quality of computational predictions are crucial, but the time for finding the answer is limited. One potential future application is short-term weather prediction, where it is important to quickly and accurately predict for example thunderstorms, hurricane paths and tsunami propagation. This is connected to real-time analysis of earth observation data from satellites. In the long term, high-quality image processing could, for example, detect a budding forest fire before it spreads uncontrollably. In the financial sector, higher accuracy in algorithmic trading naturally comes with instant reward.