Rymax One – Develop a Quantum Computer to Solve Optimization Problems

BMBF Project »Rymax«: Development of Algorithms for Quantum Computing with HPC Integration and Benchmarking

In the project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), we are developing a quantum computing demonstrator based on Rydberg atoms together with our project partners: the Rymax One.

The Rymax consortium is composed of a team of researchers from the University of Hamburg, the RPTU Kaiserslautern and our institute, which has joined forces with leading technology companies. Together, we are pursuing the goal of developing a quantum computer that is capable of solving optimization problems as efficiently as possible – for example, in practical applications in logistics operations, supply chains, and process optimization. Our institute, the Fraunhofer ITWM, forms the bridge between the technology partners, who construct the quantum computer, and the users from Hamburger Hafen Logistik and the OTTO Group, who contribute practical experience. 

Together with these associated industrial partners, we identify relevant optimization problems from the logistics environment, which are then to be solved with the help of Rymax One.


Computing With Atoms for Industrial Application

The acronym is made up of the following components: RY stands for Rydberg atoms – one of the ways to realize quantum computing – and MAX describes that the team wants to get the most out of this technology. The quantum computer itself will be located in the newly constructed RPTU research building »Laboratory for Advanced Spin Engineering« (LASE) on the university campus in Kaiserslautern and at the University of Hamburg. Quantum computers have the potential to solve certain mathematical problems better than classical, digital computers. Our task in the project is to appropriately model the practical use cases of the associated inudstry partners and to provide suitable algorithms and software so that we can exploit this potential as well as possible.

Expertise From Kaiserslautern and Goals of the Fraunhofer ITWM

On the part of our team at Fraunhofer ITWM, scientists from the fields of »High Performance Computing« (HPC) and »Optimization« (OPT) contribute their expertise. The focus is on the following goals:

  • Developing algorithms: For efficient control and use of the Rymax One, special algorithms are required that are tailored to the planned architecture.
  • Connecting to HPC/Cloud software: In order to ensure that hybrid algorithms are distributed across different systems, an event-driven architecture is used. This is particularly important for industrial applications in order to process the data locally as far as possible so that the latency between the quantum computer and the classical systems for iterative algorithms is as short as possible.
  • Performance evaluation: In order to evaluate the performance of the Rymax One as objectively as possible in terms of solving optimization tasks related to planning and logistics, it is necessary to perform extensive benchmarks. The conception, development and implementation of these benchmarks is another goal of the project.
Rymax One Quantum Optimizer
© Fraunhofer ITWM
In a vacuum chamber, individual atoms (red, blue) are held in place with laser beams and transformed into so-called Rydberg states, which can assume highly entangled quantum states in a controlled manner.

The Rymax One will use a relatively new technology that relies on neutral atoms that are brought into a so-called Rydberg state and arranged and controlled in space with the help of lasers.

Such Rydberg atoms are characterized by the fact that the outermost electron is in a high energy state. This leads to a particularly well controllable physical behavior.

The resulting interaction between groups of Rydberg atoms makes it possible, in particular, to realize certain quantum algorithms that can be used, for example, to solve optimization tasks.

Basis of Previous Research of the Two Divisions of the Fraunhofer ITWM – Optimization and HPC Drive Forward

For a long time, our division »Optimization« has been intensively dealing with problems in production planning and the optimization of logistics networks in different industries. For this purpose, especially techniques of multi-criteria optimization as well as heuristic methods are used and are continuously developed further.

Our division »High Performance Computing« offers comprehensive tools for novel accelerators. As an important component in the Rymax project, we are designing and implementing an HPC interface for HPC hardware as a building block between classical and quantum high-performance computing.

At the end of the project, there should be a prototype that is suitable for practical use, which is why market-leading companies such as the Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft HHLA, Hermes as well as the Otto Group are on board. In this way, questions about the benefits for problems in warehousing, rescheduling of production processes or logistics always remain in the focus of our research during development. After a successful completion of Rymax, further future application areas of this quantum computer technology, such as the calculation of new active ingredients for drugs or the optimization of insurance algorithms, are to be developed.

Our Project Partners

  • Universität Hamburg, Zentrum für Optische Quantentechnologien (Projektkoordination, Prof. Dr. Klaus Sengstock)
  • RPTU Rheinland-Pfälzische Technische Universität Kaiserslautern-Landau, Fachbereich Physik
  • Data cybernetics ssc GmbH, Landsberg am Lech
  • Menlo Systems GmbH, Planegg
  • LAYERTEC GmbH, Mellingen
  • HighFinesse Laser and Electronic Systems GmbH, Tübingen
  • Schäfter + Kirchhoff GmbH, Hamburg
  • Spectrum Instrumentation GmbH, Großhansdorf
  • FiberBridge Photonics GmbH, Hannover
  • QUARTIQ GmbH, Berlin

Associated Partners

  • Otto GmbH & Co KG, Hamburg
  • Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG, Hamburg

Project Duration and Funding

The project is scheduled to run for five years (Dec. 1, 2021 to Nov. 30, 2026) and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the »Quantum Computer Demonstration Setups« measure. The total project volume is 29 million euros (87.1 percent funded by the BMBF).