“We Are Just Starting the Quantum Journey,” Says CTO at GENCI Stéphane Requena

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In a recent interview at Pasqal Thoughts 2024, Stéphane Requena, CTO at GENCI (Grand Équipement National de Calcul Intensif), discussed the pioneering collaboration between Pasqal’s Quantum Processing Units (QPU) and the CEA’s High-Performance Computing (HPC) resources. This initiative is set to revolutionize the future of computing by integrating quantum capabilities with existing HPC infrastructure.

Requena began by introducing GENCI and its pivotal role in providing access to supercomputers for researchers across Europe.

“GENCI is a French HPC agency. We are in charge of providing access to supercomputers to researchers from Academia and Industry in Europe,” he explained. One of the key national centers, TGCC at CEA, hosts the powerful supercomputer Joliot-Curie, which is instrumental in this quantum leap.

“We made the purchase of the Pascal QPU two years ago and now we are deploying the system with the mission to explore the possibility to offload some part of the traditional computation in quantum chemistry, in optimization, in machine learning to quantum devices,” said Requena. This integration is not just about enhancing computational power but also about fostering innovation and pushing the boundaries of current scientific research.

The French Quantum Plan aims to couple Joliot-Curie with various QPUs, including the Pascal QPU, to evaluate how these quantum devices can work in tandem with traditional CPUs and GPUs.

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“It’s important to be humble, we are just starting the quantum journey, but we think that in the coming decade we will have some good indications that, for example, some domains like quantum chemistry could be a perfect leader,” Requena stated.

Quantum chemistry is poised to be a significant beneficiary of this integration, given its close ties to the principles of quantum physics. Requena stressed: “In our HPC centers one third of the production is coming from chemistry. Chemistry for biology, chemistry for physics, chemistry for materials, etc. So, if we are able to put these kinds of problems on QPUs, we are going to provide huge horsepower to the scientists in the future.”

Furthermore, the potential applications of quantum computing extend beyond chemistry.

“We can also think about machine learning, so there are some possibilities in classification to use graph methods on quantum processing units,” Requena pointed out. “And we can also think about optimization problems, which is very important for smart cities and developing new ways of optimizing energy.”

This collaborative effort is not confined to France alone. The HPCQS project and the joint initiatives with Germany signify a broader ambition to build a pan-European HPC and Quantum infrastructure.

“This is the first ever in the world. It’s important to mention that there are ten technologies in the world for quantum computing and Europe has a chance to master six or seven of the ten, so it’s something we cannot miss,” said Requena, emphasizing the strategic importance of this effort.

As Europe stands on the brink of a quantum revolution, Requena’s thoughts shine a light on the immense potential and the collaborative spirit driving this transformative journey. The integration of quantum computing with HPC resources heralds a new era of scientific discovery and technological advancement.

Want to find out more what’s going on in quantum in France? If so, check out our French National Quantum Report — June 2024.

James Dargan

James Dargan is a writer and researcher at The Quantum Insider. His focus is on the QC startup ecosystem and he writes articles on the space that have a tone accessible to the average reader.

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