Many areas of science depend on the computer-aided calculation of mathematical problems. Powerful supercomputers capable of performing the most complex calculations on thousands of processors in parallel are available for this purpose.
"The benefits of high-performance computing can be seen, for example, in weather forecasts, which have to be up-to-date every day. If I were to calculate them on a laptop, it would take several weeks."
Alexander Ostermann, Head of the Scientific Computing Research Area
However, there are problems that are difficult to crack even for supercomputers or require exorbitant amounts of computing power. In drug research, for example, it may be necessary to calculate the energy of a molecule. This is precisely where quantum computers can play to their strengths.
“The development of quantum computers is still in its infancy. Currently, we operate relatively small systems. Such quantum computers can also be used as coprocessors for classical computers. If supercomputers outsource calculations, such as the energy of a molecule, to a quantum computer, this can significantly speed up the computing process.”
Philipp Schindler, Department of Experimental Physics
Austrian quantum supercomputer
A project team comprised of the research area Scientific Computing, the Departments of Computer Science, Mathematics, Experimental Physics and Theoretical Physics and the central IT department of the University of Innsbruck, as well as with the support of external partners in Linz and Vienna, will install and launch a supercomputer with an integrated quantum computer in Innsbruck in the next few months. The new quantum supercomputer is being financed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) under the Quantum Austria funding program, using funds from the EU's NextGenerationEU recovery plan. Special interfaces and GUIs will have to be developed so that users can share the two types of computers.
Quantum computers can accelerate supercomputer processes. Special software ensures an efficient exchange between classical processes and the quantum processor. Yet-to-be-developed programming interfaces will allow users to easily access the computers and run hybrid quantum algorithms
Michael Redinger, central IT department
After setup and testing, the new computer will be accessible to all scientists in Austria for research and teaching. Computing time on the quantum supercomputer will be allocated in annual calls for proposals.
Success for the University of Innsbruck
The new computer will make it easier for Austrian research groups to explore applications of quantum algorithms and to optimize current quantum systems. This will eventually enable the development of hybrid quantum algorithms and bring the fields of quantum and high-performance computing closer together.
This new infrastructure will introduce the next generation of Austrian researchers and engineers to quantum information processing, opening many doors for the future. In total, the University of Innsbruck was able to lure 20 million euros from the Quantum Austria funding program. The new quantum supercomputer will become a flagship for the university and provide important impulses for research and teaching in many disciplines.”
Ulrike Tanzer, Vice Rector for Research