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Nu Quantum data centre is part of £2.3m Innovate UK collaboration

Nu Quantum is developing a world-first modular, rack-mount and scalable quantum data centre prototype – and is collaborating with Cisco Systems Inc, using the digital communications technology multinational as a prospective end user for the project.

The ultimate goal for quantum computing is to solve problems out of reach for classical computers.

Nu Quantum management team
Nu Quantum management team

Commercially useful, fault-tolerant quantum computers of any modality will require millions of physical qubits – between 1,000 to 10,000 times what quantum computers are currently capable of. There is increasing recognition that real-world systems will be most efficiently architected by combining tens to thousands of computing cores or quantum processing units (QPU) supported by quantum networking units (“QNU”s).

The pioneering project to create a modular and scalable quantum network is being developed under the SBRI’s (Small Business Research Initiative) Quantum Networks, Enabling Components & Systems competition funded by Innovate UK.

The project, called LYRA, delivers discrete 19-inch rack-mount modules for control-plane and optical interfacing. The modular architecture allows in-field upgrades to support different quantum computer modalities and alternative wavelengths. The solution also incorporates a new high-precision timing-architecture and digital control bus, allowing the system to easily scale to support a large cluster of quantum-compute nodes.

Nu Quantum rack
Nu Quantum rack

The end result is that LYRA will become the world-first modular, rack-mount and scalable QNU prototype.

As a world-leading supplier of networking infrastructure, Cisco has vast experience in delivering scalable, resilient and performant data-centre services. The San Jose, California-based corporate whose purpose is “to power an inclusive future for all by helping our customers reimagine their applications, power hybrid work, secure their enterprise, transform their infrastructure, and meet their sustainability goals”.

Cisco’s side of the collaboration of the £2.3m contract is to contribute to key system requirements and help to evaluate final deliverables.

Peter Shearman, head of co-innovation at Cisco UK & Ireland, said: “We are delighted to partner with Nu Quantum to accelerate this journey towards a modular, qubit-agnostic and data centre-optimised future.”

Nu Quantum team
Nu Quantum team

Carmen Palacios, co-founder and CEO of Broers Building-based Nu Quantum, said: “We are honoured to be awarded the contract from UK SBRI to pilot the first prototype of a quantum data centre in the world, and to have an amazing partner like Cisco. LYRA takes the cornerstone quantum networking units from optical-bench to a deployable, prototype-product, capable of supporting test-bed integration with trapped-ion qubits and software stacks.

“The LYRA QNU is designed for future support of different qubit modalities and is a huge step forward in bringing quantum out of the lab and into real world use.”

Roger McKinlay, challenge director – quantum technologies for UK Research and Innovation said: “Partnerships are as important as products to accelerate the development and adoption of this transformative technology.”

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