IBM Q – The quiet sound of quantum computing

The world of quantum computing is not like traditional computing. It’s much quieter. As you reduce the temperature to few fractions of a degree above absolute zero to observe quantum effects observable, you also cut a lot of the vibration. There is still noise from pumps and compressors, but the cold eliminates the vibration and noise in the system itself.

This makes a quantum system ideal for the YouTube craze known as ASMR, where repeated quiet sounds may induce euphoria. Which is possibly why IBM released the video below showing their IBM Q quantum computer.

The system shown is a 20-qubit system. You hear the sounds of the various systems around the white insulating tank that contains the delicate systems that are the actual quantum computer itself. At 15 milliKelvin (0.015K), the atoms of silicon, aluminum, and niobium are almost motionless. You hear the tinkle and woosh of liquid Helium being piped around the open dilution refrigeration unit that chills the computer. These sounds are of a fundamentally different nature to the roar of airflow you hear in a traditional datacentre.

This platform provides the compute resource for IBM’s Network Q. This is a group of researchers from academia, technology, and potential end-user companies. As quantum computing is so different from traditional computing, they are looking at how to define “programs”. Resolving the translation of data from traditional systems to qubits is another challenge. These are commercial systems reachable across the IBM’s network allowing participation from locations across the globe.