Quantum Platforms

New Operating System for UK’s Quantum Computers

September 1, 2020

Last year and earlier this year we reported on the development of Riverlane’s Quantum Operating system named DeltaFlow.OS and it’s funding of 7.6m (GBP). The operating system is the key to getting better performance and capacity from quantum hardware. Now Riverlane have announced that the operating system has now reached a point of maturity where it could be used.

Why a Quantum Operating System?

Like classical computers it would be time consuming if everytime we wanted to run a program we had to understand the hardware, controllers and full architecture. The layer of abstraction named the operating system, helps provide a reliable interface no matter what the under lying hardware actually is. Companies such as IBM, Google, have their own ways of ensuring that quantum programmers can interface with the hardware. The aim of a Quantum Operating system is to enable that O/S (Operating System) to work on multiple architectures.

Importantly an efficient operating system provides typically the most effective way to interface with the hardware. Imagine without an O/S programmers could do almost anything to a machine. The development of an application would mean playing with really low level routines.

Turning to the Quantum world, IBM Q for example allows users to just concentrate on the gates and the quantum circuits that are desired. So what does the O/S from Riverlane offer?

Move Over Windows, DeltaFlow.OS incoming

Well, maybe not just yet, Microsoft is safe. But the purported speed up in terms of running near term Quantum devices is thought to be around three order of magnitude (1,000x) faster than other methods. We’ve not seen these benchmarks as yet at QZ, so we cannot qualify these claims as yet, but these are the figures that have been suggested. We appreciate it is early days, but we look forward to the next milestones and seeing the adoption of a new “layer” in the quantum computing stack.

One key advantage touted is the ability to deal with very different quantum hardware, four different types are currently exhibited in the UK: trapped-ion, superconducting, silicon and photonic qubits. That means one O/S running on all these disparate technologies frees the programmer to to focus on what is important. When we look at how the O/S in the classical world allowed the rapid rise of the computer industry, could we expect the same in the Quantum space? Certainly Hermann Hauser who founded Acorn and Later ARM (one of the leading microprocessor designers) seems to think so.

Defining the right interface between hardware and software was instrumental for the success of the microprocessor. I am excited about the UK quantum computing industry taking steps for this success story to repeat itself.

Dr. Hermann Hauser: Founder of ACORN RISK MACHINES (ARM)

Riverlane say that because of the optimizations taking place “under the hood” hardware can be utilized effectively. For example applications using Deltaflow.OS can make use of other hardware such as FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays).

The founder of Riverlane (Dr. Steve Brierley) believes that the development of Deltaflow.OS shifts the complexity of designing quantum computer applications from hardware to software, something that we can all agree sped the adoption of the personal computer. Watch this space for the latest news and developments on Quantum Hardware, and (now) Operating systems.