Inside Azure Quantum: Microsoft's plan to deliver quantum resources to developers

Mirroring Microsoft's developer-centric ambitions up and down the stack for classical systems, the Microsoft-developed Q# and QML are the cornerstone of their quantum strategy.

Why Honeywell is partnering with Microsoft for their quantum computing initiatives Honeywell quantum president Tony Uttley discusses how Honeywell's core competencies in design and manufacturing make quantum a natural market to enter, and where they see business use cases emerging.

Microsoft announced Azure Quantum on Monday at Ignite 2019 in Orlando, which the company positions as their "full-stack, open cloud ecosystem" aimed at bringing the capabilities of quantum computing to the mainstream. Microsoft is partnering with 1QBit, Honeywell, IonQ, and QCI as part of Azure Quantum, for software and hardware integrations.

Foremost among the offerings for developers is Q#, and the Quantum Development Kit (QDK), which can be tested on simulators as well as a variety of quantum hardware. QDK, which is "interoperable" with Python, aims to abstract differences that exist between different types of quantum computers. 

SEE: Cheat sheet: Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Microsoft is not a newcomer to the quantum space, starting research in 2000. In 2018, the company announced the development of a noise-resistant topological qubit, which can be used to complete longer-lived, higher-complexity computations. 

At Ignite 2019, the company touted a collaboration with the University of Sydney in controlling 50,000 qubits through three wires, as well as a cryogenic CMOS design, and a one square-centimeter chip operating at near-absolute-zero temperatures.

For all of the excitement that follows the field of quantum computing, there has been to date few practical business uses of the technology, with naysayers complaining that the discipline is at best purely academic, or at worst, science fiction. 

"The field is evolving. I took my first quantum computing class in the late 90s, and it felt really far away then. Even in the last five, six years, things continue to accelerate," said Julie Love, senior director for quantum business development at Microsoft. "This is really a brand new technology. We're building quantum systems that leverage the power of quantum physics, and it takes a new approach, innovations across the entire stack."

"We don't have that scalable quantum system now. Technology always happens this way, things always feel like they're really far away, and then we get exponentials, which are hard for humans to grok -- this pace of change, we're starting to see that impact now with quantum, we're seeing the work on the quantum-inspired side, we've had breakthroughs across the entire stack with our program, and each of those breakthroughs really gets us closer to that realization of true quantum impact," Love said.

Azure Quantum is anticipated to launch in private preview "in the coming months," according to Microsoft.

For more on quantum computing, check out "Why quantum volume is vital for plotting the path to quantum advantage" and "Google's quantum computing supremacy claim relies on a synthetic benchmark, researchers assert" at TechRepublic.

Also see

microsoft-ignite-2019-2.jpg

Image: Microsoft