Quokka Aims to Put a 30-Cubit Quantum Computer on Your Desk — in Emulation, at Least

The puck-shaped Quokka, powered by a quad-core 4GB computer-on-module, aims to get developers ready for the quantum future.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101

Quantum physicist Chris Ferrie and researcher Simon Devitt are looking to let anyone go hands-on with quantum computing with Quokka, a compact "puck" that simulates a 30-cubit quantum device — specifically, a future perfect implementation so far not reached by physical quantum computers.

"The Quokka does exactly what every other 30-qubit quantum computer does: it accepts quantum programs, executes them, and returns the result," Ferrie writes of his creation. "The Quokka is not an emulation of existing quantum devices because those are prone to errors and do not execute quantum programs faithfully. Quokka is an emulation of future quantum computers. Quokka is designed to be an indistinguishable emulation of a 30-qubit fault-tolerant quantum computer."

If you've ever been curious about quantum computing, Quokka aims to provide an accessible platform for education and experimentation. (📹: Chris Ferrie)

Developed in partnership with fellow academics, the Quokka is not an actual quantum computer — devices that are priced highly enough to be accessible only to governments and large research departments. In its plastic puck-shaped housing, reminiscent of an early-model Amazon Echo, an unspecified quad-core computer-on-module (COM) runs a simulation of a fault-tolerant 30-cubit system, providing a means to experiment with the concepts.

"The developers are professors who have used Quokka to teach undergraduate and graduate students quantum computing since 2022," Ferrie claims. "Over one million quantum programs have been run by hundreds of students. We also have pilot users spanning the globe (and alphabet!) from Aalto University in Finland to Yoobee College in New Zealand — more than 50 Quokkas in the wild!"

The Quokka as-is pairs with a smartphone app and allows quantum programs to be transmitted for execution on the device, with a cloud-powered platform offering greater interaction to follow. Quokka Basic, Ferrie says, will provide a circuit builder, an embedded Jupyter notebook, and a block-based visual programming environment; Quokka Advanced will provide a library of content for the platform; and Quokka Stores will provide narrative-driven lessons.

The Quokka runs an emulated 30-cubit quantum system on a quad-core 4GB COM hidden inside its shell. (📹: Chris Ferrie)

The underlying emulator behind Quokka could, in theory, run on any sufficiently powerful computing device with at least 4GB of RAM — but Ferrie says he's trying to avoid that approach. "As soon as you see a student's face when they can see and touch the device their quantum program on, you'll have the answer," he claims. "Nothing can replace the engagement of a hands-on tactile learning experience."

Despite that, Ferrie is offering access to cloud-hosted Quokka devices for those who don't want to splash out physical hardware. The Quokka campaign is now running on Kickstarter , with cloud-based platform access starting at AU$39 and physical hardware starting at AU$474 (around $25.50 and $310 respectively) for early-bird backers. All tiers, it must be noted, will require ongoing subscription payments for access to the Quokka cloud platform.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles