LightSolver leverages 'quantum-inspired' laser processing tech

Quantum computing is not quite mainstream yet, but what about “quantum-inspired” computing?

A growing number of companies are developing QPUs (quantum processing units) that could be the eventual successors to today’s GPUs (graphic processing units), but Tel Aviv-based LightSolver is hoping to fill the gap in between with LPUs, laser processing units that rely on laser physics, and tackle optimization problems in a way that has some similarities to quantum computing. That is why LightSolver is inclined to describe its technology as “quantum-inspired.”

Laser-based processing uses all-optical coupled lasers to compute rather than electronics, so it can operate at low power and low cost, and in a desktop-sized footprint. It also tackles optimization tasks much faster than a traditional GPU, the company said. For example, LightSolver noted that a GPU needs a few microseconds to execute a vector matrix multiplication (VMM), an operation in optimization and various other applications. But, LightSolver’s LPU100 can execute the same operation in as little as 10 nanoseconds, the company said.

Some industries may be waiting on QPUs to deliver game-changing benefits for optimization problems. QPUs are known to leverage quantum physics to represent many different variables and possibilities simultaneously, while an LPU has a laser-based array that uses laser physics to represent as many as 100 continuous variables and many more combinations. However, an LPU does not require the extensive cooling apparatus of today’s QPUs, meaning it can operate at room temperature and in less space than current quantum computers. 

LightSolver CEO Ruti Ben Shlomi explained to Fierce Electronics, “We aren't building processing units based on qubits or quantum mechanic principles. The LPU is based on laser physics. It converts a mathematical problem into a physical logic formulation, then maps it into ‘obstacles’ within the lasers' optical path. Coupled lasers interact with each other and then seamlessly converge towards the minimal energy-loss solution that corresponds to the solution to the mathematical problem.”

She further explained that LightSolver calls its technology “quantum-inspired” because it “mimics some aspects of quantum computers, such as scanning all possibilities in parallel, due to the highly parallel nature of its laser configuration. It can also overcome barriers mimicking the quantum tunneling effect, due to its deep connectivity and unique laser dynamic.”

The LPU100 is available today through LightSolver’s cloud platform, which is something else it has in common with QPUs, as many of today’s users of quantum computing access QPUs via the cloud, which offers them a low-risk and low-cost way to try out a new computing technology. 

"LightSolver's new offering of a unique and promising laser-based compute capability through a cloud platform presents a low barrier to entry for a wide range of advanced computing users, enabling them for the first time to explore this quantum-inspired technology for their demanding and mission-critical workloads," said Bob Sorensen, Senior Vice President of Research and Chief Analyst for Quantum Computing, Hyperion Research, in a statement provided by LightSolver.

LightSolver expects that laser-based processing can address optimization problems common to industries such as finance, logistics, aerospace, and more. For example, the company has published a paper on how LPUs can be used to address the vehicle routing problem considered a barrier to high efficiency and faster delivery in the logistics sector.