Xanadu launches photonic quantum cloud platform

Toronto-based quantum computing startup Xanadu on Wednesday announced the release of a publicly available photonic quantum cloud platform, which it calls the Xanadu Quantum Cloud.

The startup is touting the offering as the world’s first publicly available platform of its kind. According to Xanadu, developers can now access its gate-based photonic quantum processors in 8, 12, and soon 24 qubit machines.

“Quantum computing has the potential to solve problems that we’ve previously only dreamed of solving.”

“We believe that photonics offers the most viable approach towards universal fault-tolerant quantum computing with Xanadu’s ability to network a large number of quantum processors together,” said Christian Weedbrook, Xanadu founder and CEO. “Our architecture is new, designed to scale-up like the Internet versus traditional mainframe-like approaches to quantum computing.”

Xanadu was founded in 2016, with a mission of using photons, or particles of light, to perform exceptionally fast and complex computations at room temperature. In May 2018, the company raised a $9 million Seed round from Golden Ventures and Real Ventures in order to build out this technology. In July of that year, it partnered with the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) to allow CDL’s ventures to access quantum machine learning programs. CDL was one of Xanadu’s partners testing out the Xanadu Quantum Cloud prior to its public release. The recent launch marks the availability of the platform to enterprise customers that may be seeking to leverage quantum computing.

“Quantum computing has the potential to solve problems that we’ve previously only dreamed of solving,” said Seth Lloyd, Xanadu’s chief scientific advisor, last year when the startup raised a $32 million Series A round, led by OMERS Ventures.

“Xanadu’s quantum optical approach stands out among other quantum computing technologies,” Lloyd added.

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In November, Xanadu secured a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to test the performance of quantum machine learning (QML) algorithms on currently available quantum computing hardware. Xanadu has raised $41 million in venture investment to date.

In August 2019, Xanadu announced the results of a proof-of-concept project with BMO and Scotiabank to test the impact of quantum algorithms on financial trading projects.

Xanadu has two flagship software products, Strawberry Fields and PennyLane. Launched in November 2018, PennyLane allows users to run quantum machine learning algorithms on any available quantum computing hardware with popular machine learning tools like PyTorch and TensorFlow. The software can integrate with currently-available APIs and quantum hardware, and using a plugin system, PennyLane is also able to interact with quantum computers from different companies in a hardware-agnostic way.

Xanadu’s other flagship software project, Strawberry Fields, is a full-stack platform for photonic quantum computing. It provides the main access point for Xanadu’s unique photonic quantum computers, as well as a suite of special-purpose quantum simulators.

According to the startup, photonics-based quantum computers offer advantages over older platforms. Xanadu stated that its quantum processors easily integrate into existing fiber optic-based telecommunication infrastructure, “enabling a future where quantum computers are networked.”

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Xanadu had originally hoped to launch its cloud offering by the end of 2019.

“We believe we can roughly double the number of qubits in our cloud systems every six months,” said Weedbrook in a statement about the cloud release. “Future machines will also offer improved performance and new features like increased qubit connectivity, unlocking more applications for customers.”

The startup noted that in addition to the computing market it is also targeting secure communication and quantum networking.

“We are laying the groundwork for our vision of the future: a global array of photonic quantum computers, networked over a quantum internet,” said Weedbrook.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Associate Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.