AWS Quantum Technologies Blog

New open source tool expands access to lab-based quantum prototypes: Cloud Queue for Quantum Devices

Experimental physicists are vital to the future of quantum computing, sensing, and networking, laying the groundwork for new types of devices and enhancing the performance of existing technology. Their work, like all open science, can be accelerated through collaboration, but providing access to prototype hardware is challenging. The Cloud Queue for Quantum Devices project provides a simple cloud-based access model to expose experimental hardware to a global community.

All of the quantum computers currently available on Amazon Braket, the quantum computing service of AWS, started in the labs of experimental physicists. Innovation on these complex systems requires constant iteration on device design, fabrication methods, and control techniques. These devices require carefully isolated environments and delicate, complex components to facilitate interactions. The components themselves are often quite expensive , consisting of microwave, laser, and/or refrigeration technologies custom built in the lab or from boutique manufacturers. These factors all contribute to increase the resources required to build and experiment on quantum devices.

Enter the Quantum Instrumentation Control Kit (QICK) project, a collaboration originated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, University of Chicago, and Princeton University. QICK was supported by the Quantum Science Center, a Department of Energy National Quantum Information Science Research Center headquartered at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. QICK is an open source software project that provides firmware that runs on an general purpose rapid prototyping board from AMD Xilinx, transforming the board into a FPGA-powered control platform for quantum devices.

Some of the first experimentalists to use this platform were David Schuster’s group at University of Chicago (now at Stanford) and Andrew Houck’s group at Princeton University where QICK was used to control sensing devices and experimental qubits. Providing a ready-to-use control platform allowed the researchers to focus more of their time on the design and fabrication of their devices and less on the basic control and access functionality.

David Schuster, an Amazon Scholar, brought the QICK project to the attention of the quantum team at AWS, and the idea of adding cloud connectivity quickly became the focus of a collaboration with the QICK community. On its own, the QICK platform provides access only to users who are local to the hardware. To solve this problem, we realized that we could make it easy for anyone in the research community to use the AWS Cloud to access the devices from anywhere in the world.

To achieve this, the AWS quantum team has been working with the QICK team to build a cloud-based queue enabling tests from multiple users to be submitted remotely and experimental results to be uploaded to the cloud for analysis. This month, we released that code to the public on GitHub. The Cloud Queue for Quantum Devices uses AWS services, as shown in Figure 1,  to give the owner of a QICK-based device an easy way to create a queue for devices, create user accounts, provision access and manage workloads in the queue. Users logging into a custom web interface can see which devices they have access to, discover the device’s specific characteristics, perform experiments on that device, and retrieve their experimental results when complete.

architectural diagram of the cloud queue for quantum devices

Figure 1 – Cloud queue for quantum devices uses AWS services to provide remote access to experimental devices and expand opportunities for collaboration.

“This collaboration with AWS is a key example of how QICK research funded by the Quantum Science Center is accelerating the development of quantum technology,” said Travis Humble, director of the Quantum Science Center.

AWS is looking forward to working with the community to extend and enhance the functionality of this first released version, available under an MIT license on GitHub. We are inviting the global quantum technologies community to participate by creating and integrating additional functions to manage devices, users, and experiments, and in creative uses of other AWS services to analyze and utilize the experimental results. We are also excited by the potential to collaborate with other open source control platforms for quantum computing and sensing devices, such as ARTIQ, QubiC, or QIBO. Commercial vendors are also welcome to join the effort if they want to use this as a way to expand the reach of their products and services, accelerating innovation for their customers.

This video provides a walk through of installation and basic usage of the Cloud Queue together with the QICK client code.