Honeywell Announces Development of Record-Setting Quantum Computer

Honeywell Quantum Solutions, a division of Honeywell International, Inc., has announced the development of an unprecedented quantum computing system. Slated for a mid-2020 release, the company says its quantum system has doubled the quantum volume of the next fastest system at QV (Quantum volume) 64. The system is the first demonstration of quantum charge couple device (QCCD) architecture.

In addition to working towards a quantum system in conjunction with JPMorgan Chase, Honeywell has invested in Cambridge Quantum Computing and Zapata Computing, two companies supplying software for quantum computing.

Quantum volume is the metric used to rate quantum systems by considering the number, connectivity and low error rate of qubits, the basic unit of quantum computing. Compared to bits, the binary building block of traditional computers, qubits can occupy both states, the “0” or “1” of a bit, at the same time; this is where quantum systems exhibit computational benefits. Whereas two bits could represent “00”, “01”, “10” or “11”, thanks to entanglement and superposition, two qubits can represent all four values at one time.

In addition to the inherent benefits of qubits over bits, the system’s QCCD architecture is a novel quantum approach to a traditional charge-couple device. In computing, these devices are used to transfer an electrical signal so it can be manipulated into a form of digital information. Honeywell’s “trapped-ion” system, which utilizes 171Yb+ ions for qubits and 138Ba+ ions for “sympathetic cooling,” is built around a Honeywell cryogenic surface trap. The whitepaper, published on Honeywell’s site on March 2, states that the system is capable of arbitrary ion rearrangement and parallel gate operations across multiple zones. Read the paper at

While many organizations have openly publicized and promoted their quantum developments, Honeywell has chosen to develop their system in secrecy. IBM has introduced IBM Quantum, their latest foray into the quantum realm, which has made announcements including a consortium of over 100 organizations utilizing IBM’s quantum computing capabilities. Intel recently released “Horse Ridge,” their cryogenically cooled quantum control chip produced alongside QuTech, a partnership between TU Delft and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research. Learn more about “Horse Ridge” in Cold Facts Volume 36, Number 1.

Google announced “quantum supremacy” in Nature, where they claimed their system had reached such computational capabilities that “a state-of-the-art supercomputer would require approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task.” IBM was quick to point out that their system had the equivalent computing power, as each system has a 53-qubit processor. They even argued that an “ideal simulation” of that “same task” would take only two-and-a-half days to complete, not 10,000 years as Google claimed.

While the current competition to claim “quantum supremacy” in an existing system may not have a clear winner, Honeywell is focusing on the larger picture of the work that the technology will facilitate. “Quantum computing will enable us to tackle complex scientific and business challenges, driving step-change improvements in computational power, operating costs and speed,” Darius Adamczyk, Honeywell chairman and chief executive officer, said. “Materials companies will explore new molecular structures. Transportation companies will optimize logistics. Financial institutions will need faster and more precise software applications. Pharmaceutical companies will accelerate the discovery of new drugs. Honeywell is striving to influence how quantum computing evolves and to create opportunities for our customers to benefit from this powerful new technology.”

The company has announced a partnership with Microsoft as part of the Azure Quantum offering, allowing users access to both Azure’s classical computing resources and Honeywell’s quantum system when the computer is available for enterprise use in late 2020. ■