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Riverlane heads £7.6m bid to build new quantum OS

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Quantum computer Riverlane (35205827)
Quantum computer Riverlane (35205827)

Quantum computing took a giant step towards accessibility this week with the announcement that a £7.6m government grant to build a new operating system has been awarded to a consortium headed by Cambridge-based quantum computing software developer Riverlane.

Around 50 quantum computers have been built to date, and they all use different software – there is no quantum equivalent of Windows, IOS or Linux. The new project will deliver an operating system that allows the same quantum software to run on different types of quantum computing hardware. The planned quantum operating system, Deltaflow.OS, is already being developed.

Joining the Riverlane-led consortium are the UK’s most exciting quantum hardware companies - SeeQC, Hitachi Europe, Universal Quantum, Duality Quantum Photonics, Oxford Ionics and Oxford Quantum Circuits, along with Fulbourn-based chip designer Arm and the National Physical Laboratory. They will will “evolve their technology and develop firmware for their quantum processors that will later interface with Deltaflow.OS”.

Arm will develop specific control systems emulators for Deltaflow.OS, while Riverlane will lead on the development of a dataflow framework, a runtime and powerful quantum applications.

Dr Steve Brierley, CEO of Riverlane, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant to build and install the quantum operating system Deltaflow.OS on all leading hardware platforms in the UK. Together with consortium partners, we have a unique opportunity to accelerate the commercialisation of the UK quantum technology sector and overtake global competitors in this space.”

Riverlane has worked on software using Oxford Quantum Circuits’ hardware
Riverlane has worked on software using Oxford Quantum Circuits’ hardware

Deltaflow.OS will be the first of its kind. While competitors typically present quantum computers as a “black box”, Deltaflow.OS exposes the different elements of the full quantum computing stack. This gives users the power to schedule tasks in an optimal way, improving the performance of quantum computers by orders of magnitude compared to other leading approaches. Once the hardware and software are tightly integrated, the performance is expected to improve even further.

Dr Fernando Gonzalez Zalba, head of quantum computing at the Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory, said: “At Hitachi Europe, we are building a quantum computer based on the very same microprocessor technology that we can find in our laptops, cars and mobile phones. Deltaflow.OS will enable us to deliver a full stack solution that will help solve customer’s greatest computational challenges.”

The quest is on for Deltaflow.OS
The quest is on for Deltaflow.OS

Dr Ilana Wisby, CEO of Oxford Quantum Circuits, added: “By making OQC’s stack compatible with Deltaflow.OS, we’re helping build a new standardised quantum ecosystem. This UK-first effort to build compatibility is a critical step in ensuring the widest possible use of our consortium’s technologies and opening up this ecosystem to new players, generating additional commercial opportunities.”

“We anticipate a prototype release of an emulator in September,” said Riverlane communications assistant Amy Flower. “We’ve been working on it since July 2019 and have developed an internal prototype already.”

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