Evaluation of quantum computing hardware, portals and software development kits publicly available in China

By Brian Siegelwax

China reportedly spends as much on quantum research as most of the rest of the world combined. Therefore, among other things, we can expect them to come much closer to practical quantum computing than anyone else. Luckily, several China-based quantum computing clouds are publicly available, so we can try to figure out where they really stand. Since China mainly develops superconducting quantum computers, based on what is publicly available, we will compare them to the western world leader in superconducting qubit numbers and coherence times: IBM Quantum.


On behalf of China, we take a look at three publicly accessible superconducting quantum computing clouds. We also take a look at a recent paper that suggests how much further China may be behind closed doors. Then we look at how IBM Quantum compares.

original quantity

Origin Quantum provides a 6-qubit device with an average relaxation time of at least 10 μs via its OriginQ Cloud. This means that all calculations must be completed within about 10 millionths of a second. No western company reports relaxation times below 20 μs, which means that with western superconducting quantum computers one has at least twice as much time for calculations. IBM Quantum’s lowest-performing devices outlast all Western competitors, all of which outlast Origin Quantum’s “Kuafu.” The smallest devices typically have 5 qubits, making Kuafu larger than some of its western counterparts.


Baidu provides an 8-qubit device with an average relaxation time of 31 μs. While both numbers actually surpass many Western counterparts, OQC features an 8-qubit device with an average relaxation time of 50 μs. And again, IBM Quantum’s worst machines outlast both.


SpinQ claims to have a 20-qubit device with relaxation times of around 10–100 μs, but only makes an 8-qubit device publicly available with a similarly wide relaxation time range. At any point in time, some of the on-chip qubits might have relaxation times comparable to IBM Quantum’s worst qubits, while other qubits on the same chip might have relaxation times just as bad as Origin Quantum’s. The 8-qubit device is also limited by a linear topology, meaning that all qubits are connected to at most two other qubits; The qubits at either end are each connected to just one other qubit. Consequently, most algorithms running on this 8-qubit device require additional operations to shift quantum states, operations that significantly increase the error rate during computation.

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Several universities in China have collaborated on this paper, which claims a superconducting quantum computer with 68 qubits and an average relaxation time of 109.8 μs. Both figures are well ahead of the previously mentioned companies. So let’s keep those numbers in mind as we take a look at IBM Quantum’s offering.

IBM Quantum

Although the 433-qubit Osprey chip is only just available in exploration status, IBM Quantum still has several 127-qubit devices that we can compare to the 68 we just looked at. In addition to the larger devices, which are almost twice the size, IBM Quantum currently has a total of 22 publicly available superconducting quantum computers, 9 of which are available for free. Two of the 127-qubit devices, ibm_sherbrooke and ibm_kyiv, have relaxation times of around 300 μs, nearly triple the 109.8 μs reported in the article above.


One of the IBM Quantum devices, ibmq_manila, has only 5 qubits but has an average relaxation time of 198.17 μs at the time of this screenshot. The world has unlimited, free access to an IBM Quantum device with average relaxation times nearly double the 109.8 μs claimed in the publication.


At the time these screenshots were taken, the 27-qubit ibm_peekskill processor had the highest average relaxation time of 320.75 μs, which again is roughly triple the 109.8 μs reported in the publication.

hardware conclusion

The 127-qubit ibm_sherbrooke had an average relaxation time of 293.68 μs at the time of this screenshot. This means that IBM Quantum single-handedly has more higher-quality qubits in a single superconducting quantum computer than any China-based company or institution even claims. While China reportedly spends nearly as much on quantum research as the rest of the world combined, there’s no evidence of leadership in quantum computing hardware. Unofficially, I asked a representative of one of the three China-based companies what the state of the art was there, and there was no rebuttal.

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The three aforementioned China-based companies all have something in common: they all have portals with drag-and-drop circuit builders. Next, let’s take a cursory look at these portals.

original quantity

As expected, the drag-and-drop circuit builder dominates the screen. On the left is the site navigation and visualizations around it.


Baidu also features the drag-and-drop circuit builder as the main attraction, with left-hand side navigation, visualizations below, and a QASM editor as a bonus.


SpinQ moves the QASM editor to the right side of the screen, otherwise the high-level description of this screen duplicates Baidu’s.

IBM Quantum

And this is the original. IBM Quantum had the first publicly available quantum computing cloud, and that hasn’t changed much since the early days. The drag-and-drop circuit builder is still the focus, navigation is still on the left, visualizations are still at the bottom, and there’s still a QASM editor on the side. It was impossible to rate the three previous portals without noticing the uncanny resemblance to the original.

Conclusion of the portals

IBM Quantum is not the only quantum computing portal outside of China, but other portals strive to be distinctive. The three China-based portals, apart from the screenshots above, are apparently all based on IBM Quantum.


IBM Quantum is perhaps best known for its Qiskit library, the world’s most popular quantum computing library. But with China reportedly spending so much money, let’s take a look at what it has to offer.

original quantity

OriginQ Cloud includes a lab with 12 Jupyter notebooks, but no folders that might hide other Jupyter notebooks. We don’t see textbook algorithms or example applications, just tutorials on how to use QPanda.

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Baidu has Jupyter notebooks on GitHub, but it’s easier to see what’s available on GitHub from the Tutorials page on the site. We can see that there are a variety of applications, but no introductory tutorials or textbook algorithms.


SpinQit consists of 14 tutorials on GitHub with a mix of algorithms and applications. Given the company’s focus on the education sector, it’s surprising that there aren’t any introductory tutorials here.

IBM Quantum

As is well known, Qiskit contains everything: introductory tutorials, textbook algorithms and example applications. Also, it’s not limited to IBM hardware. Because it’s open source, it integrates with competitor hardware. A look at GitHub shows how many contributors Qiskit has, keeping Qiskit the largest publicly available quantum computing library. If you find something you like in another library, chances are Qiskit has it too.

SDK conclusion

Qiskit is an open source library with the largest user base in the quantum community. This user base with access to the code makes Qiskit larger than the libraries of companies that pay employees to develop their SDKs. Therefore, it is not surprising that even with China spending heavily, Qiskit remains the leader in this area.


Countless sources claim that China spends more money on quantum research than the rest of the world. This is a great motivation for every other country to keep going and not risk falling behind. But we can take a look at what’s going on there. Maybe they spend money in other areas and quantum computing is not a priority. Maybe they hide their best stuff. However, what we can actually verify is that China doesn’t even outperform IBM.

May 9, 2023