Finnish research centre VTT says the combination has opened up a “completely new science”.

This week, researchers at Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre announced that they’ve connected their HELMI quantum computer with the pan-European supercomputer LUMI. LUMI is hosted at the CSC – IT Centre for Science and hailed as “Europe’s most powerful classical supercomputer” by the VTT team.

The connection, according to VTT, “enables the best possible use of the quantum computer’s computing power”, adding that “this is the first time in Europe that this kind of hybrid service connecting a supercomputer and a general-purpose quantum computer is opened for researchers”.

The connection of HELMI and LUMI “paves the way to a future where quantum computers and traditional high-performance computers work together”, the researchers observe. They also claim that such combinations will solve difficult problems that neither computer can solve alone. Integrating HELMI with LUMI enables hybrid computing projects and boosts the development of the required quantum algorithms and software, the team said.

A pairing that will benefit ‘the whole society’

Quantum computers, while potentially extremely powerful at certain tasks, need supervision by traditional classical computers. Finland is one of the few countries worldwide that has connected a quantum computer and a supercomputer. Finland’s first quantum computer, the 5-qubit HELMI hosted by the VTT Technical Research Centre, became operational in 2021. The LUMI supercomputer, hosted by CSC in Europe’s greenest HPC facility, also started its operations in 2021.

Pekka Pursula, Research Manager at VTT, explained the thinking behind the project. “VTT wants to do applied research using the quantum computer and learn more about these possibilities”, he said. “We see great potential in quantum computing for accelerating innovation for the benefit of companies and the whole society.”

“LUMI is now the most powerful quantum-enabled supercomputing infrastructure in the world, in addition to being a leading platform for artificial intelligence”, commented Pekka Manninen, Director of LUMI. “This means that we have all the drivers of the future of computing seamlessly integrated and ready to be utilized.”