Linux Foundation launches quantum computing alliance to drive interoperability

IBM Quantum Challenge 2021
(Image credit: IBM)

The Linux Foundation has announced a new joint effort to help facilitate interoperability within the quantum computing ecosystem.

Dubbed Quantum Intermediate Representation (QIR), the alliance is part of the Linux Foundation’s efforts to promote the development and use of open standards.

“The QIR Alliance will provide a single representation that can be used for both today’s restricted capabilities and the more powerful systems of the future. This will allow the community to experiment with and develop optimizations and code transformations that work in a variety of use cases,” remarked Bettina Heim, principal software engineering manager, Microsoft

Along with the Linux Foundation, and Microsoft, QIR counts Honeywell, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Quantum Circuits Inc., and Rigetti Computing, as its founding members.

Glueing hardware and software

Linux Foundation argues that new software development kits (SDKs) for quantum computing are constantly appearing, and so are new quantum processors with unique and distinct capabilities. 

QIR is the intermediate representation (IR) that helps glue and bridge the gap between the two, and provide interoperability in order to reduce the development effort from the various members of the quantum computing ecosystem. 

Technically, QIR is based on the popular open source LLVM compiler toolchain, and specifies a set of rules for representing quantum programs within the LLVM IR. 

QIR will help developers write quantum optimizers using the standard LLVM  infrastructure, and tailor it to target specific hardware backends, or even link it with classical high performance libraries for quantum simulation. 

QIR's announcement didn't list any specific near-term deliverables, or immediate priorities.

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.