Quantum Performance Laboratory (QPL)

The QPL is an R&D group that develops and deploys cutting-edge techniques for assessing the performance of quantum computing hardware to serve the U.S. government, industry, and academia.

Critical Need

Quantum computing is undergoing a revolution, with the rapid emergence of testbed-class quantum computers that can run unique quantum programs, and promise someday to enable quantum algorithms that solve key problems. The leading edge of this hardware – until recently, limited to individual qubits in research labs – is now full-stack multiqubit “NISQ” (noisy intermediate-scale quantum) processors accessed over cloud interfaces. The critical questions about every such device are “What can it do?” and  “How well does it perform?” But claims about performance are often based on opaque metrics with no clear relation to applications, which go unverified and unchallenged. Sandia National Labs has been developing testing, benchmarking, and characterization protocols to answer these urgent questions since 2013, and in early 2019 stood up the Quantum Performance Laboratory (QPL) to serve the U.S. and global quantum computing community. The QPL’s primary mission is R&D around the performance of quantum computers – how to measure it, what limits it, and how to guide development toward useful quantum advantage.

“Understanding the capabilities, faults, and performance of specific quantum computing processors is essential to make good use of the processors available today, and to guide development of the next generation.”

Robin Blume-Kohout, Lead, Quantum Performance Lab

The QPL’s Innovative R&D Mission

The QPL combines research into the capabilities and behavior of quantum processors, development of new techniques and protocols for measuring and assessing that performance, and active engagement and outreach with the entire U.S. quantum computing community. We study the failure mechanisms of real-world qubits and processors. We create meaningful metrics of low- and high-level performance, predictive models of multi-qubit quantum processors, and concrete, tested protocols for evaluating as-built experimental processors. And we enable scientists and engineers around the world to use cutting-edge diagnostics and benchmarks by maintaining and supporting the open source pyGSTi software package, which provides an extensive suite of tools and algorithms for evaluating individual qubits and many-qubit processors. The QPL collaborates with industry and academia to develop new performance assessment tools and apply them to newly developed quantum computing platforms, publishes results in scientific journals including Nature Communications, Physical Review X, and Physical Review Letters, and sponsors high-impact international workshops to nucleate and nurture the quantum performance research community. In addition to its R&D capabilities, the QPL also provides quantum hardware assessment capabilities directly to DOE and the U.S. Government.