New IBM ‘super-fridge’ is world’s largest quantum computer

IBM has built the world’s largest dilution refrigerator, or “super-fridge,” by experimental volume, for what the company has internally dubbed project Goldeneye.

Pat Gumann of IBM working on the super-fridge. Credit: Connie Zhou for IBM.

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The super-fridge is a proof-of-concept project for cooling the quantum experiments of the future, as the company had identified several limitations of current dilution refrigerators. Dilution refrigerators are cryogenic devices that use a mixture of Helium-3 and Helium-4 isotopes to achieve extremely low temperatures. However, current devices cannot house larger quantum physics experiments, have limited input/output ports, and cooling power can always be improved.

Goldeneye is not targeted for use with any of IBM’s Quantum processors as of yet. Still, it expands the boundaries of what quantum computing experimentation can achieve, with the ability to cool 1.7 cubic meters’ worth of experimental volume (about three home kitchen fridges worth of volume) to colder temperatures than outer space. This far exceeds previous dilution fridges, which ranged between 0.4 and 0.7 cubic meter capacities.

Previous dilution fridges have been much more cumbersome, requiring large cranes, multiple technicians to assemble or disassemble, and a team of engineers for regular operation. However, Goldeneye features a modular design and a special jib crane that make it so one day it could be used by a lone operator, and even remotely. Goldeneye will soon relocate to the IBM Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, where it will contribute to research for the development of cooling solutions for quantum computing data centers.

For more about how the system works, check out IBM’s breakdown here.