AWS joins Singapore on quantum quest

AWS provides access to quantum computing through its Amazon Braket offering.
Professor Chen Tsuhan (NUS); Tan Lee Chew (AWS); Quek Gim Pew (Ministry of Defence) and Chen Guan Yow (Economic Development Board)

Professor Chen Tsuhan (NUS); Tan Lee Chew (AWS); Quek Gim Pew (Ministry of Defence) and Chen Guan Yow (Economic Development Board)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is set to give the National University of Singapore (NUS) a hand in developing new quantum communication and computing technology. 

The cloud vendor has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the tertiary institution to develop the technology and also explore the potential industry applications of quantum capabilities. 

AWS provides access to quantum computing through its Amazon Braket offering, which is a fully managed quantum computing service designed to help researchers and developers get started with the technology to accelerate research and discovery.  

By now, the idea behind quantum computing is fairly well established. Unlike classical computing, which uses digital bits as binary switches to carry out calculations, quantum computing makes use of the unusual properties of subatomic quantum bits – or qubits – to perform calculations. 

While traditional computing relies on ones and zeros, qubits can be both one and zero at the same time. In theory, this property allows calculations to be done in tandem with each other on a huge scale which, in practical terms, means being able to crunch huge amounts of data quickly, solving problems that are too complex or time-consuming for existing computers. 

However, developing quantum algorithms and designing useful quantum applications require new skills and potentially radically different approaches. This is where AWS is stepping in. 

Through Amazon Braket, AWS provides access to three types of quantum hardware, including quantum annealers and gate-based systems built on superconducting qubits and on trapped ions, as well as tools to run hybrid quantum and classical algorithms.  

Amazon Braket’s cross-platform developer tools, meanwhile, are designed to provide a consistent experience so users do not need to learn multiple development environments, making it easy to explore which quantum computing technology is the best fit for an application. 

The collaboration between AWS and NUS is led by the Quantum Engineering Program (QEP), a national initiative launched in 2018 by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), which aims to leverage quantum technologies to solve real-world problems. The program is hosted by NUS. 

Quantum technologies were identified as a key technology area under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 Plan, which NRF manages. The collaboration between QEP and AWS is expected to accelerate the development of innovations and solutions in this field. 

Under the new agreement, AWS will support QEP in the development of quantum computing research and projects and connect to the National Quantum-Safe Network for quantum communications.  

The areas covered under the MoU include the identification of use cases and development of applications that could support future commercialisation of Singapore-designed quantum computing and communication technologies, along with the joint organisation of academic, scientific and public outreach activities like seminars, workshops, festivals and conferences. 

“Singapore has built its quantum technology expertise over many years,” said Tan Lee Chew, ASEAN managing director of worldwide public sector at AWS. “AWS is delighted to collaborate with QEP to accelerate the quantum innovation in Singapore working directly with researchers, developers, governments, and organisations. 

“We are committed to making quantum technology accessible to any customer to experiment and explore the technology’s potential to develop industry-focused solutions that solve meaningful customer challenges,” she added. 

AWS isn't the only cloud provider offering access to quantum hardware and software platforms. In February, for example, Microsoft’s Azure Quantum, a public cloud ecosystem for building quantum computing applications, became available for use in a public preview phase.

Indeed, Microsoft, Google, IBM and a number of other technology companies are all developing quantum computers – and quantum computing programming models – using a range of approaches.

A range of ancillary services, including classical computer-powered environments designed to emulate quantum computers, letting developers test out quantum algorithms without having to fork out for quantum run-time, have also sprung up around the promise of real quantum hardware.