IBM proposes the CLOPS metric to measure the speed of a quantum computer

IBM has proposed a new metric to measure the speed of a quantum computer. It is called CLOPS and it is the first of its kind to measure the number of quantum circuits that a quantum processing unit (QPU) can execute in a unit of time.

IBM is one of the leading companies in quantum computing, the “next frontier” of the technological world. Although there are still decades for its application at the end customer level, all the large companies (Amazon, Microsoft, Google…) have advanced projects to develop a technology with enormous potential. The race is not only technological and affects marketing and the ability to obtain patents and influence as well.

Speed ​​is just one of the three critical attributes that reflect performance of a quantum computer, according to IBM, and the other two are scale and quality. Scale is measured by the number of qubits that the quantum processor supports, while quality can be determined by quantum volume, which is another benchmark IBM developed in 2017 to measure how closely a circuit can be implemented in a quantum computing system.


CLOPS (Circuit Layer Operations Per Second) is intended to measure the number of quantum circuits that a quantum processing unit (QPU) can execute per unit of time. These circuits are the basic unit of calculation for quantum computers, since they include the sequence of quantum operations and also the interaction of the quantum system with a classical computer, something to take into account for a transition that will not be short or simple.

And it is that a quantum program includes a degree in classical silicon-based computing. Developers use classic hardware, such as a laptop, to convert instructions into a form that is consumable by the QPU, as well as to retrieve calculation results. With each “query” sent to the quantum computer, a few tens of thousands of quantum circuits are made, so the rate at which the quantum-classical interaction occurs is key to the performance of the overall system.

This speed is what CLOPS measures, which includes the time actually spent running the circuit in the device, but also the delay time between trips of each circuit in the system and the time spent preparing the same for that. they work.

IBM has run CLOPS to compare several of the company’s quantum processors, from five-qubit systems to 65-qubit devices, finding big differences in speed. The company expects this CLOPS provide a broader understanding of quantum hardware performance, which is not just limited to the number of qubits or quantum volume. And also dismiss the concerns of experts who believe that some quantum systems may be “overrated.”

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