Everything you always wanted to know about what it’s like to work here

We posted a new arxiv preprint today. It is called “Architectural considerations in the design of a superconducting quantum annealing processor”. You can download it here.

It describes how Vesuvius came to be. It is a great story — I think you will like it.

It is like a science fiction detective story outlining in a first hand experience kind of way what it’s like to be on the front lines of a brand new technology. I seriously couldn’t stop reading it once I started. If you’re interested in what it’s really like to work here on this type of stuff, you should read it.

7 thoughts on “Everything you always wanted to know about what it’s like to work here

  1. Wow, what an engineering coup. To me, this was nothing short of a Herculean task. One simple question I have though: Why wasn’t Eric Ladizinsky not on the paper as co-author?. Great pioneering work. Keep it up, and don’t get distracted by fly-by-night sideshows.

  2. Thanks, man!

    Pleased that you have found the style a bit entertaining!๐Ÿ™‚ I would not go as far as a “science fiction detective story”, but it definitely was a pleasure to put pieces together, so far…

    Sol (above): it was a bit of semi-conscious decision to limit the authors list to just the Physicists and Designers who have argued about the approach the loudest, but I would like to rectify any possible injustice to all of my fellow D-Wavers, both in Fab and Engineering, who have helped to achieve this in practice! And, especially, Eric, who has the distinction of having pulled both Mark and myself into thus crazy enterprise we call D-Wave! Please count this as a formal Acknowledgment.๐Ÿ™‚

    Paul B.

  3. I checked the Arxiv preprint download but realized it’s way over my head๐Ÿ˜‰ Is there a cliff notes version? Anyways, what I want to know and was curious about is why Dwave used an 8-qubit unit cell, or why the Qubits are grouped by units at all. What if you just have 20 individual qubits for example and make them all “fully” connected with each other?

    • Hi Ramsey! The reason for a unit cell structure is for scalability of the underlying design. If you can pack a ton of complexity into a single unit and then tile the exact unit across your processor then all you need to do is make sure the unit is functioning and then you are fab yield limited in how big you can make the full processor. Processor architectures not based on tiling repeating blocks are possible but at the expense of growing complexity and difficulty. As the amount of $ we have to grow the business is ~ 0 compared to the semiconductor industry, we need to be exceptionally careful that every processor spin works pretty much the first time — nearly zero margin for error. You could certainly build fully connected processors, up to a certain point, but once you reach that point (maybe around 20?), then to scale the design you need to connect them up — a unit cell with a fully connected 20 qubit design would probably be possible.

      The reasons for the 8-qubit cell are gone over in some detail in the paper. One of the main considerations was circuit packing. With that design, the digital parts of the processor fit nicely into the ‘holes’ where the qubits and couplers aren’t. This is important for several reasons, including fab yield. When you have a multilayer process it’s important to have the density of metal circuitry in the underlying levels not vary too much.

      • Thanks for the reply Geordie, that was a great explanation. Always wondered about this, thought it was all about quantum. I guess if you want to build something real, you have to deal with real-world stuff. I’m also pretty excited how this would change or evolve overtime, that would be something to look forward to.

  4. It is ironic to reflect that the original thrust of the Nobel Prize was for innovations that materially improved the state of the art in applications of Science. Many of the D-Wave critics forget that Marconi won a Nobel prize for working out long-distance Radio Transmission.

    I spy with my little eye a trip to Stockholm.

    • Hi Kingsley! While it would be great to be recognized in this way, it’s not really something that motivates the work here. We want to build technologies that last — we want these innovations to be remembered in a thousand years. That’s a much better reward๐Ÿ™‚

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