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Honeywell has made the next leap in its game of leapfrog with IBM, announcing its latest quantum computer featuring new technologies that allow users to more quickly upgrade their ion-trapped systems over the course of the systems' lifetime.
Honeywell's System Model H1 is powered by 10 connected physical qubits, up from six in the previous version, and has a quantum volume of 128 for performance. That surpasses IBM's latest system announced earlier this year, which has a quantum volume of 64. Honeywell's latest system makes good on its promise to deliver a quantum system in each of the next five years that is an order of magnitude faster than the previous system.
Along with the new quantum computer, Honeywell unveiled a two-tier subscription plan designed to make it easier and less expensive for users to upgrade quantum systems. The plan is designed in anticipation of the rapid technology advances expected with quantum systems over the next few years, according to Honeywell.
"We're pushing the boundaries with this technology that allows users to upgrade quickly," said Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions. "So, coming up with a subscription plan that aligns with the new technology made sense, and it is something users are increasingly becoming familiar with in the industry. It allows them to continually upgrade the H1 generation [of systems]."
The improvements Honeywell made to its differentiated quantum charge-coupled device trapped-ion technology, which first appeared in its System Model H0, are at the heart of what allows the system to upgrade quickly. Another new feature that contributes to rapidly increasing quantum volume, called mid-circuit measurement reset and qubit reuse, is technology borrowed from Honeywell's precision controls technology.
"One of the key features in our architecture is the ability to measure a single qubit in the middle of a circuit, while not destroying the quantum information in the rest of the qubit," Uttley said. "This opens up a bunch of opportunities for people to be creative with their algorithms. You can unlock a lot of new features. It's driving a lot of interest."
One analyst agreed that the mid-circuit measurement reset is a capability some of Honeywell's quantum computer competitors are still chasing.
"The mid-circuit, measurement and reset with qubits is unique to Honeywell -- the other quantum computing companies using the trapped-ion approach have been trying to duplicate it,' said Paul Smith-Goodson, a senior quantum analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "[Honeywell is] actually able to reduce the number of qubits they needed for certain operations."
Another analyst said while Honeywell is pushing the quantum technology envelope with the H1, it isn't all about raw performance as measured by the quantum volume metric.
Daniel NewmanPrincipal analyst, Futurum Research
"Quantum volume has been the metric to date, but we are seeing a focus on usability rather than just 'supremacy' metrics," said Daniel Newman, a principal analyst at Futurum Research. "Those metrics are especially hard to discern considering the fundamental differences between the superconducting technology IBM and Google use, and ion trapping, which is the preferred method of Honeywell."
The subscription plan, the first offered by a quantum computing vendor according to Smith-Goodson, offers two levels: standard and premium. Under the standard plan, a user gets eight hours of dedicated time each month when Honeywell's team of theorists and physicists work with a user organization's team on projects, according to Uttley. Users also get unrestricted queuing, allowing them to run jobs on the HI system. The premium plan offers 16 hours per month of dedicated time, in addition to the same services offered under the standard plan.
"Quantum as a service matches the shifting consumption model that customers are increasingly adopting," Newman said. "It will enable customers to incorporate quantum as well as encourage earlier adoption as part of a hybrid model that will benefit from quantum and classical computing working harmoniously."
Accompanying the new system and subscription plan, Honeywell announced that its latest enterprise userwith quantum access is Merck, along with a new partnership with Accenture. The addition of these two companies is a good representation of use cases for quantum computing in the pharmaceutical and logistics fields, as well as the internal use cases Honeywell is now working with in its own Aerospace and Performance Materials group, Uttley said.