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The first IBM quantum computer installed on a university campus comes to RPI

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At the heart of a former chapel, basked in light from stained-glass windows, sits a machine that researchers will use to explore the future of quantum computing.

By IBM Corporation

The facility is the Voorhees Computing Center on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), just outside Albany, New York. RPI unveiled its new IBM Quantum System One at an event at the center today, celebrating the first time an IBM quantum computer has been installed on a university campus.

The event was attended by a raft of dignitaries from RPI, IBM, and local government, all of whom are invested in shaping the future of computing in the United States, and quantum’s undoubted role in that. New York Representative Paul Tonko, IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishina, along with RPI President Marty A. Schmidt, Chairman John Kelly (also a former director of IBM Research), and Vice-chairman and Nvidia cofounder Curtis Priem all celebrated the unveiling of the new system at the event.

RPI’s new quantum computer is powered by IBM Quantum’s 127-qubit Eagle processor, a device that the team showed has ushered in the age of quantum utility. A group of researchers demonstrated last year that an Eagle processor could produce accurate calculations beyond classical, brute-force simulation methods. The system is now online and running, and RPI’s network of researchers, students, and partner organizations will now have dedicated access to a system that they can use to explore pressing problems in chemistry, physics, materials science, among other potential use cases.

The Voorhees center was originally built as a chapel in 1933, next to RPI’s seminary. As the campus expanded in the 1970s, there was a need for more lecture halls, libraries, and other facilities. Instead of razing the chapel for a new computing center, faculty and students had voiced interest in repurposing the space as the computing center itself. And it’s easy to see why, with the ornate granite surfaces and beautiful windows. RPI’s former president, George Low, once called the facility “the most unique computing center in the world.”

The new computer at RPI is just the latest in a growing string of IBM Quantum systems that have been installed at research facilities around the globe. As IBM looks to realize its vision for quantum-centric supercomputing, it won’t be possible to get there alone. Breakthroughs happen quickest when scientists can work together as part of a community working towards a common goal.

This is the second system IBM has installed outside of one of its own properties, following the Quantum System One that was delivered to Cleveland Clinic in 2023. It’s also why IBM is working with dozens of other organizations to provide access to quantum systems at IBM locations across the globe, including in Japan, Germany, Canada, and soon, Spain, and South Korea.

“For the first time in history, an entirely new branch of computing is being developed with quantum technology — this is not something we can do alone,” Darío Gil, IBM Research director and RPI board member, recently said. “It is fundamental that IBM works with our global ecosystem of partners, including world-renowned universities and research institutions such as RPI, to discover and map new algorithms to the most difficult challenges that quantum computers can solve.”

“We will do this by fostering a quantum workforce of the future and ensuring that the next generation is equipped with the skills to use these systems to their fullest potential,” Gil added.

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM's hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM's breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM's legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service.

For more information, visit: www.ibm.com.

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