Intel has released a Quantum Software Development Kit (SDK) that allows developers to emulate a quantum computer on standard computer hardware.
Given the cost and frugality of the real thing, Intel’s SDK attempts to give developers the ability to experiment with writing software in a quantum environment that can be simulated on regular computers.
Anne Matsuura, Director of Quantum Applications & Architecture at Intel Labs, claims that the SDK “will advance the industry by creating a community of developers that will accelerate the development of applications so they are ready when Intel’s quantum hardware becomes available “.
Quantum computers are considered the next frontier in computing technology. They work on the basis of the principles of quantum mechanics – namely that subatomic particles can be in two places at once and also be connected or entangled in peculiar ways, even over great distances.
That means they can theoretically achieve processing speeds and calculations well beyond what even the best supercomputers can achieve. The hope is that quantum computers will be able to solve all sorts of problems that are currently beyond our comprehension, greatly advancing our understanding of everything from science and mathematics to encryption and medical development.
However, the problem is that they are still in the very early stages of development and their practical applications are therefore limited. They’re also very sensitive and have issues with high error rates, although this is improving (opens in new tab). Access to them is also quite exclusive.
With this new SDK from Intel, developers now have the option to play around with a virtual representation of one instead. It is written in C++ and uses a low-level virtual machine compiler, allowing developers to easily integrate quantum programs into their existing applications.
One of the backends for the SDK is the open-source Intel Quantum Simulator (IQS), which simulates qubits, or quantum bits. On paper, this means that software written in the SDK can be directly ported to real quantum machines in the future. It can already be paired with Intel’s Horse Ridge 2 quantum control chip and also with its quantum spin qubit chip, which is expected later this year.
The IQS supports the simulation of 32 qubit systems on a single node or more than 40 when multiple nodes are used. Fujitsu also has its own quantum computer simulator that can process 36 qubit quantum circuits, but requires a cluster of 64 nodes.
Intel claims it is “committed to advancing the quantum computing space,” but amid recent revelations about its plummeting revenue (opens in new tab)we have to see how far his project really goes.