Baidu, Alibaba Donate Quantum Lab Equipment to Official Institutes as Tech Firms Prioritize Bottom Line

Baidu has transferred its Quantum Computing Research Institute’s experimental instruments and equipment to the Beijing Academy of Quantum Information Sciences. This follows Alibaba’s DAMO Academy, which donated its quantum laboratory to Zhejiang University in November 2023. These actions underscore a strategic shift by Chinese tech giants, emphasizing a focus on the bottom line and divesting from non-core or economically unviable business units.

Established in 2018, Baidu’s Quantum Computing Research Institute is headed by Professor Duan Runyao, who is also the founding director of the Centre for Quantum Software and Information at the University of Technology Sydney. Artur Konrad Ekert, a pioneer in quantum computing and one of the co-inventors of quantum cryptography, serves as an expert advisor to the institute.

In October 2021, Baidu officially announced the QIAN strategy, aimed at creating an integrated solution for quantum software and hardware. "Q" stands for Quantum, "I" for Infrastructure, "A" for Application, and "N" for Network Ecology.

In 2022, Baidu’s Chief Technology Officer Wang Haifeng unveiled a series of technological achievements, including the industry-grade superconducting quantum computer "Qian Shi" and the world’s first integrated solution for quantum software and hardware across all platforms, "Quantum Xi."

"Qian Shi" is equipped with a 10-qubit superconducting quantum chip, boasting an average T1 time of only 31 microseconds and a single-qubit gate fidelity of up to 99.8%.

Beyond hardware devices, Baidu has also bridged the application layer of quantum computing by introducing the quantum software-hardware interface "QuanPulse." QuanPulse provides a visual one-stop client. By simply inputting basic chip information in advance, it can automatically initialize the quantum chip, significantly reducing operational and maintenance costs.

Building on this, Baidu developed a "Quantum Operating System" – the cloud-native quantum computing experimental platform "QuanYiFu," aiming to enable everyone to conduct quantum experiments on their mobile phones without leaving home. QuanYiFu integrates quantum computers from the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Precision Measurement of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

On top of the operating system, Baidu has built a cloud-quantum integrated quantum machine learning platform "QuanPaddle" based on its PaddlePaddle platform. By connecting to QuanYiFu, QuanPaddle can run quantum machine learning algorithms using quantum computing power, enabling the practical implementation of quantum applications.

This series of platform together forms a complete set of quantum computing infrastructure, namely the integrated solution for quantum software and hardware across all platforms, "Quantum Xi."

Alibaba’s DAMO Academy Quantum Laboratory was dissolved in November, with the layoff of over 30 people due to budget and profitability reasons. DAMO Academy donated its quantum laboratory and its transferable equipment to Zhejiang University. The two parties are to partner together to develop quantum technology in the future, according to the company.

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