Inaugural quantum forum at Semicon Taiwan highlights new tech apps, future development pathways

Bryan Chuang, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0


The inaugural Quantum Taiwan Forum, held on the opening day of SEMICON Taiwan 2023 running September 6–8 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, gathered experts from Fujitsu, IBM, IonQ, and the Quantum Computing Research Center under Hon Hai Research Institute to deliver keynote speeches, unveiling their latest technology applications and future development pathways. As this was the first time SEMICON Taiwan held a quantum forum in the country, the venue was tightly packed with attendees.

Many countries, including China, the US, France, the Netherlands, and Finland, are well aware of the significant military applications of quantum computers, quantum encrypted communication, and quantum sensing, and they each have their own development plans in these areas. As for the commercial applications of quantum computers, they are primarily used in areas such as production scheduling optimization, pharmaceuticals, and materials development, according to industry observers.

At the forum, Taisuke Iwai, vice president and executive director of the Strategic Alliance Unit at Fujitsu, introduced various quantum computing simulation applications using the company's digital annealing technology. Iwai pointed out that Toyota System Corporation in Japan is utilizing quantum computing for optimizing routes, resulting in cost savings of 2-5%, and is also applying it to optimize automobile manufacturing scheduling and parts warehouse management. Furthermore, the collaborative operations of artificial intelligence (AI), digital annealing, and high-performance computing (HPC) can further accelerate drug research and development.

IBM senior research scientist Shesha Raghunathan said that the more complex the quantum circuits, the higher the simulation costs, which is a barrier quantum computing must overcome. He stressed the future vision is for CPUs, GPUs, and quantum processing units (QPUs) to collaborate, ultimately solving various complex problems. In terms of error correction, IBM employs error mitigation and suppression techniques to enhance accuracy. The company plans to launch noise-free quantum bits in 2024, further marching toward achieving greater quantum advantage.

IonQ senior physicist Jwo-Sy Chen said while the outside world still lament about the inherent limitations in scaling up the ion trap quantum bits (qubits), his company has worked out a package of solution to address the problem of scaling up. Similarly, Hon Hai (Foxconn) Quantum Computing Research Center, which also utilizes ion trap technology, has made new advancements, and is experimenting with quantum circuits for neural networks to see if they can achieve better results.

Min-Hsiu Hsieh, director of the Hon Hai center, stated that since its inception in 2021, the center has produced 53 research papers, with 21 of them already published. Currently, Hon Hai has identified three major areas where it aims to make contributions: error correction, noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) algorithms for quantum machine learning with cross-validation, and drug development. Its latest quantum laboratory will be located in the "Baogao Science and Intellectual Park" in Xindian District, New Taipei City, and is set to open in October 2023, according to Hsieh.

The immense computing power of quantum computers will have a revolutionary impact on industry, finance, and national defense. Currently, quantum computers available in the world mainly use superconductors to perform quantum entanglement and quantum superposition in an absolute zero environment. As for the ion trap, a vacuum environment is required. After this forum, the National Science Council will hold an international conference on "Quantum Computer Hardware Subsystems" in November 2023 to delve deeper into the latest developments in quantum research technology.