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Quantum Computing Initiatives

Using quantum computers to solve complex social issues

As the evolution of technology brings greater complexity to computer processing in a variety of fields, there are growing expectations for the emergence of quantum computers with outstanding computational capabilities in certain fields. Through the continuous pursuit of research and development that began over 20 years ago, NEC is aiming to establish practical applications for quantum annealing machines, which are a type of quantum computer. Quantum annealing machines can solve combinatorial optimization problems that were previously difficult to solve due to the need for massive amounts of computation. In addition, while awaiting the realization of high-performance quantum annealing machines, NEC is developing annealing simulators based on vector computers that can handle large-scale combinatorial optimization problems. Through such advanced efforts, NEC will continue contributing to value creation for customers.

This photograph and banner image is based on results obtained from a project commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

NEC efforts

NEC develops original quantum computer technology

Demonstration of world's first solid-state quantum bit operation

Through quantum computing research and development that has continued since the 1990s, NEC has successfully developed advanced technologies such as the world's first solid-state quantum bits. By pressing forward with research, NEC aims to establish practical applications for all-to-all connected quantum annealing machines by 2023.
While pending the realization of high-performance quantum annealing machines, NEC is also pursuing research and development aimed at increasing the speed and scale of simulated annealing machines that can handle large-scale combinatorial optimization problems, and simultaneously moving ahead with applicability verification. For these efforts, NEC is making use of its supercomputer technology represented by SX-Aurora TSUBASA to enhance the ability to handle larger-scale combinatorial optimization problems.

※1 Y. Nakamura et al., Nature 398, 786 (1999)
※2 T. Yamamoto et al., Nature 425, 941 (2003)
※3 A. O. Niskanen et al., Science 316, 723 (2007)
※4 Z. R. Lin et al., Nature Commun. 5, 4480 (2014)

Characteristics of quantum annealing hardware envisioned by NEC

Long quantum coherence time and all-to-all connected architecture enable high-accuracy solutions to diverse combinatorial problems

Until now, the major technical issues in realizing quantum annealing machines have been to sustain the quantum state for a long time, which is expected to realize high-speed and high-precision quantum annealing calculation.
It is speculated that if the superconducting parametric oscillators that NEC successfully developed and verified in 2014 could be converted for use in quantum annealing, it would enable the quantum state to be sustained for a longer time. By arranging these superconducting parametric oscillators on a plane according to  a certain rule, the scale can be expanded while logically maintaining the all-to-all connected architecture.
By employing such methods, it may be possible to solve combinatorial optimization problems at ultra-high speed even when the scale of the target problem is large.

NEDO project

NEC selected as representative entity in research and development of quantum annealing technology

The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) selected NEC Corporation to participate in the "Project for Innovative AI Chips and Next-Generation Computing Technology Development," along with Tokyo Institute of Technology, Waseda University, and Yokohama National University. In addition, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) was selected to participate as NEC's joint implementation partner, and Osaka University was selected to participate as NEC's subcontractor. *5
This project is aimed at contributing to the promotion of high-efficiency, high-precision social systems for Society 5.0 by realizing a high-speed, high-accuracy optimization solution platform that can be used to address real problems facing all industrial domains through the integration of quantum annealing machines and common software infrastructure.
Through the research and development of quantum annealing technologies that use superconducting parametron elements, NEC aims to tackle the issues of coherence time and integration, which are two issues pertaining to quantum annealing machines that have the potential to deliver a breakthrough in providing high-speed solutions to combinatorial optimization problems, while also developing elemental technologies that lead to the realization of a quantum annealing machine in Japan.
The addition of a completely new calculation principle to cloud computing made possible with quantum annealing machine technology is expected to enable high-speed, high-accuracy solutions to optimization problems that have conventionally relied on approximate solution methods with low accuracy due to time constraints.

Project development organization

The aim of the project is to realize a quantum annealing machine by relying on the strengths in hardware possessed by NEC, AIST, and Yokohama National University, and the strengths in theory and software possessed by Tokyo Institute of Technology, Waseda University, and Osaka University.

Basic information on quantum computing
Learn basic information about quantum computing, quantum annealing, combinatorial optimization problems, and more.

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