AWS moves towards quantum networking

AWS Center for Quantum Networking will focus on communication hardware, software and apps

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is making a push into an area of quantum computing that hasn't received as much attention as other aspects: networking.

The AWS Center for Quantum Networking (CQN) will work toward solving scientific and engineering challenges around creating new hardware, software, and applications for quantum networks, AWS stated. The centre will expand other AWS quantum work being done at the vendor’s AWS Center for Quantum Computing, the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab, and its Amazon Braket service.

Amazon Braket provides a development environment for building quantum algorithms, testing them on quantum-circuit simulators, and running them on different quantum-hardware.

To unlock the full potential of quantum computers, they need to be connected together in a quantum network. Despite not receiving the same level of attention as quantum computers, quantum networks have fascinating possible applications, according to a blog by CQN research scientistsDenis Sukachev and Mihir Bhaskar.

“One of them is enabling global communications protected by quantum key distribution with privacy and security levels not achievable using conventional encryption techniques,” the scientists wrote. “Quantum networks will also provide powerful and secure cloud quantum servers by connecting together and amplifying the capabilities of individual quantum processors.”

Quantum networks will use some technologies already deployed for modern optical communications, such as lasers, fibres, and detectors. However, quantum networks rely on individual photons to carry data rather than on powerful lasers carrying data on channels of different wavelengths of light. That has shortcomings.

“Single photons enable many of the special capabilities of quantum networks and simultaneously pose the great challenge: quantum mechanics prohibits their amplification, limiting the network range,” the scientists wrote.   

“Also, the weakness of single photons complicates interfacing them with today’s quantum-computing devices. This means that special new technologies, such as quantum repeaters and transducers, will need to be developed in order to implement global quantum networks,” the scientists wrote.

AWS is part of a growing quantum community that includes Cisco, Juniper, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Baidu, Honeywell, Quantinuum.

For its part, Cisco said it envisions a hybrid networking environmentthat would support classic signaling and other technologies using photonics to transmit qubits server-to-server. Photonics, which uses light to transmit data and control a variety of networking mechanisms, will also play a big role in most quantum environments, Cisco said.

Some say the industry is five to 10 years from meaningful quantum adoption, but the interest is certainly there. Gartner expects nearly 40 per cent of large enterprises to have some quantum initiatives by 2025, and IDC projects the worldwide quantum computing market be worth $16.4 Billion in 2027.

IDC said new investments will lead to waves of technology innovation and breakthroughs that will allow organisations to apply quantum computing to a diverse and expanding group of use cases that involve the analysis of huge datasets, exponentially large numbers of variables, and an inexhaustible number of possible outcomes.