Optimising the quantum/classical interface for efficiency and portability with a multi-level hardware abstraction layer for quantum computers
Riverlane, St Andrew’s House, 59 St Andrew’s St, CB2 3BZ, Cambridge, United Kingdom
2 National Physical Laboratory, TW11 0LW, Teddington, United Kingdom
Accepted: 31 August 2023
Published online: 13 September 2023
Steady progress is being made in the development of quantum computing platforms based on different types of qubit technologies. Each platform requires bespoke strategies to maximise the efficiency of the quantum/classical interface when operating close to the qubits. At a higher level, however, a shared interface allowing portability of quantum algorithms across all the available quantum platforms is preferred. Striking the right balance between portability and performance of the algorithm as implemented on quantum hardware remains a major challenge for this field. Here, we propose a quantum hardware abstraction layer (QHAL) providing a multi-level intermediate representation of the quantum stack. A collaborative effort between software specialists and quantum hardware developers operating on four major qubit technologies (photonics, silicon, superconducting and trapped ions) led to the identification of a minimum common set of instructions and metadata allowing the QHAL to interact efficiently with multiple platforms. Access to the stack from the higher levels increases latency yet minimises the amount of hardware architecture parameters to be handled by the algorithm developer, thus simplifying code development and reducing security threats from misuse or malicious access for hardware developers. Access to the stack from the lowest—closest to the qubits—level provides the highest hardware responsiveness, suitable for algorithms requiring minimum latency for data and instruction transfer. With respect to existing quantum assembly languages, the QHAL extends further down in the stack by defining an application-binary interface to interact with the quantum hardware. By defining a standard representation of the quantum stack, a common reference framework is provided to both software and hardware developers which would ensure future integration of their R&D efforts.
© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2023
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.