Intel is known for its dedication to advancing quantum computing and aiming to create a developer community. And just recently, the company launched its newest version of the Intel Quantum Software Development Kit (SDK) in a beta release in September 2022. The SDK’s version 1.0 features a simple programming interface based on C++, giving a programming language familiar to classical computer developers and allowing them to collaborate with quantum engineers.
The Software Development Kit (SDK) is an entire quantum computer in “simulation” or silico that can communicate with Intel’s quantum hardware, such as the Horse Ridge II control chip and the quantum spin qubit chip, intended to be released later this year. The kit enables developers to simulate quantum algorithms and includes an intuitive programming interface written in C++ that uses an industry-standard low-level virtual machine (LLVM) compiler toolchain. As a result, Intel’s SDK is more versatile and customizable, with an easy interface with C/C++ and Python programs.
Furthermore, users can now use the SDK to create modest workloads to identify which features of the quantum computer’s system architecture are required to run algorithms effectively and accurately on qubits. In addition, Intel is using the SDK internally to co-design quantum hardware and software, speeding up system development.
Intel has provided grants to five universities to develop quantum course curricula to share with other universities and spread its use across academia as a starting point for this effort: the University of Pennsylvania, Technische Hochschule Deggendorf, Keio University, The Ohio State University, and Pennsylvania State University.
Intel Quantum SDK 1.0’s C++ Programming Interface
The SDK’s version 1.0 features a simple programming interface based on C++, giving a programming language familiar to classical computer developers and allowing them to collaborate with quantum engineers. A quantum runtime environment optimized for performing hybrid quantum-classical algorithms is also included in the kit. Developers can choose between two target backends for simulating qubits: a larger number of generic qubits or Intel hardware.
The SDK framework can be customized and expanded to provide additional flexibility for designing quantum applications. It also allows users to compare compiler files, a common feature in traditional computing development, to determine how well an algorithm is optimized in the compiler. It enables users to view the source code and receive lower levels of abstraction, gaining knowledge of how a system stores data.
The first backend is Intel® Quantum Simulator, a high-performance open-source generic qubit simulator (IQS). IQS features a backend that can handle 32 qubits on a single node and over 40 qubits on several nodes. The second component is a target backend that simulates Intel quantum dot qubit hardware and allows for compact model modeling of Intel silicon spin qubits. Intel’s qubits take advantage of the company’s experience in silicon transistor manufacturing to enable the creation of a large-scale quantum computer.
The SDK is being used by the Deggendorf Institute of Technology in Munich, Germany, to investigate a fluid dynamics topic crucial for aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. Intel hosted an Intel Quantum Computing Competition at Deggendorf Institute of Technology in January 2023. Entries investigated quantum use cases using the Intel Quantum SDK beta, such as picture denoising, realistic image production, and handling unstructured search challenges.
Another beta user, Leidos, is investigating applications such as quantum machine learning, material simulation, and astrophysical difficulties such as quantum teleportation, black holes, and wormholes.
Intel intends to release further versions of the SDK with enhanced functionalities and integrate the SDK smoothly with Intel’s quantum hardware.
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