RESEARCH NOTE: Quantinuum Secures $300 Million to Support Research on AI and Quantum Fault-tolerant Hardware, Software, and Algorithms

By Paul Smith-Goodson, Patrick Moorhead - January 29, 2024

Quantinuum recently received $300 million in a fundraise from investors JPMorgan Chase, Mitsui & Co., Amgen, and Honeywell. The deal had a pre-money valuation of $5 billion for Quantinuum. The investment represents a heavy vote of confidence in Quantinuum’s technology, strategy, and management because each investor already has a business or research relationship with Quantinuum.

Amgen has used Quantinuum’s H-Series machines for computational biology research. Mitsui has a distributorship agreement with Quantinuum for the Japan and Asia-Pacific markets. And Honeywell holds a majority stake in Quantinuum and plays an important role in its strategic direction and growth.

Since 2020, JPMorgan Chase has run many of its groundbreaking quantum research projects on Quantinuum H-Series quantum computers. Finance is expected to be one of the first industry sectors to benefit from quantum, which is why JPMorgan Chase has such an aggressive quantum research program.

Use of funding

I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Rajeeb Hazra, CEO of Quantinuum, about how Quantinuum will use the $300 million. Based on our conversation, I expect there are some groundbreaking developments on the horizon.

“We’ve been following our QCCD roadmap for ten years,” Hazra said. “It contains very clear steps for qubit scaling and fidelity improvement. It also has a path for error correction using logical qubits. This funding will allow us to continue to work on our basic architecture evolution and innovation.”

Quantinuum CEO Dr. Rajeeb Hazra

Dr. Hazra went on to explain that the funding will also allow the company to make additional investments in AI software and algorithms, with the objective of achieving quantum advantage in certain use cases on the hardware roadmap.

Quantinuum recently hired Dr. Harry Buhrman as its Chief Scientist for Algorithms and Innovation. Dr. Burman is a well-known complexity theorist and quantum computing scientist. He will be responsible for integrating Quantinuum’s quantum process technology with software product offerings. The position will require establishing close collaboration between scientific and engineering teams, software developers, and customer application design teams globally.

Dr. Hazra also highlighted a third area of importance. A portion of the new funding will be used to scale Quantinuum’s commercial efforts. This is a philosophical shift away from stealth development to a market-facing approach to commercialize the company’s technology. Quantinuum plans to enhance its capabilities in sales and marketing. It will also provide greater participation in markets such as cybersecurity, oil and gas, financial markets, and transportation.

As an example of research moving out of stealth mode, Quantinuum’s H2 computer made advanced research possible on elusive topological states that are promising building blocks for fault-tolerant quantum computing. In a collaborative effort with Caltech and Harvard, Quantinuum researchers were able to prepare a non-Abelian quantum state on 27 qubits with a relatively high fidelity. Quantinuum is expected to continue research on this as a long term project.

Quantinuum technology

Quantinuum trap scaling roadmap for Series H1 through H5

The most current technology in use today is the System Model H2. It is Quantinuum’s second generation quantum computer in an H-Series roadmap that extends out to model H5. The H2 has a racetrack-shaped ion trap and performs quantum operations by moving a few ions at a time into one of four different zones located in strategic locations along the oval racetrack. These zones allow multiple quantum operations to be performed in parallel, which increases algorithm speed and efficiency. The quantum charged coupled device (QCCD) architecture also allows qubits to be scaled up without reducing gate fidelities or trading off any unique system capabilities.

The H2 features 32 fully connected qubits, a quantum volume of 65,536, and a high two-qubit gate fidelity of 99.8%. All these figures are highly competitive in the quantum computing market.

Wrapping up

Quantum computing has changed significantly over the past five years. During that time, Quantinuum has moved to a broad and integrated hardware and software commercial strategy that incorporates use cases for relevant domains. Quantinuum’s roadmap is not just a series of incremental advancements. It combines integrated plans for the hardware, software, and algorithms needed to create a path for fault tolerance. Quantinuum’s long-term focus on quantum error correction uses logical qubits to scale to a level that allows quantum advantage.

Hardware represents a significant portion of Quantinuum’s R&D opex and capex. From all indications, that will continue because hardware is a significant differentiator for the company. In terms of systems, in addition to supporting the wrap-up of H3, the new funding will enable expenditures on early experiments and features for H4 and H5.

The new funding also opens up new areas to incorporate quantum. For starters, it will allow Quantinuum to explore the important area of integrating AI, quantum, and HPC. Quantinuum is also a leader in quantum natural language processing, which will make the next generation of AI more scalable and suitable for many applications.

In the next few months, I expect to see some very interesting announcements from Quantinuum. Although Dr. Hazra didn’t disclose any specifics, there was a tantalizing message posted to the Quantinuum news page: “Researchers are working on ways to handle errors so that the hardware we will have in the coming months [emphasis in original] will be capable of performing useful tasks that are intractable for any classical computer—in other words, to achieve ‘quantum advantage.’”

+ posts
Paul Smith-Goodson is the Moor Insights & Strategy Vice President and Principal Analyst for quantum computing and artificial intelligence.  His early interest in quantum began while working on a joint AT&T and Bell Labs project and, during 360 overviews of Murray Hill advanced projects, Peter Shor provided an overview of his ground-breaking research in quantum error correction. 
+ posts
Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.