The second generation of the service expands the scale of problems that can be solved from the 1,024 bits of the first generation, launched in May 2018, to 8,192 bits, leading to substantial gains in precision and performance for enhanced problem-solving and new applications. Fujitsu plans to roll out the service to North America and Europe during fiscal 2018 - Fujitsu's fiscal year ends March 31, and thereafter to the rest of Asia as well. The second generation service can be applied to increasingly complex real-world problems in businesses and society, including manufacturing, financial services, retail and distribution as well as drug discovery, and can be expected to see use in various industries and fields.
Fujitsu will offer the Fujitsu Quantum-inspired Computing Digital Annealer as an On-Premises Service starting in February 2019. With the new service, servers supporting the second generation of Digital Annealer technology can be installed in customer data centres.
The Digital Annealer is a core technology developed to accelerate digital innovation. With advanced technological capabilities refined through developing supercomputers, an abundant track record of systems integration, and engineers with expertise in such areas as consulting, systems engineering, and research and development, Fujitsu maintains its commitment to promote transformative technological innovations. Delivering the Digital Annealer solution to businesses in order to solve complex, large scale problems, Fujitsu is able to contribute to the evolution of customer operations and potentially new customer business models.
Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. developed the Digital Annealer as a dedicated architecture for solving combinatorial optimization problems, which involve finding optimal solutions for real-world problems in which large numbers of potential combinations exist. In May of this year, Fujitsu Limited launched a Cloud-based service using this architecture to solve problems of a scale that could be expressed in up to 1,024 bits.
As it was necessary to improve the scale and precision of the technology in order to handle larger scale, more complex problems, Fujitsu developed the next generation Digital Annealing Unit (DAU), a dedicated processor for the Digital Annealer that makes use of ultra-high-density circuit integration technology refined through the development of high-performance processors. This breakthrough development has expanded the scale of the number of connections between bits from the current 1,024 to up to 8,192, and the coupling precision from 16 bits of gradation to a maximum of 64 bits, for 18.45 quintillion gradations. These enhanced performance specifications allow for the application of this technology to solve even larger scale problems - previously unsolvable, while also dramatically improving processing performance by a factor of 100 compared with the existing first generation of the Digital Annealer.
With the next generation service, the Digital Annealer technology can be applied to more complex problems, including the optimization of production lines for entire factory floors, or drug discovery focused on intermediate-sized molecules.
Customers will be able to use the second generation (maximum of 8,192 bits) Digital Annealer via the internet with Fujitsu's Digital Annealer Cloud Service, as well as the Digital Annealer On-Premises Service, through which servers are installed in customer data centres for onsite usage.
Features of the service include the following:
1. Provides world-class scale and precision with full bit intercoupling
The Digital Annealer employs a fully coupled design that can handle the strength of all couplings between bits, and owing to that all 8,192 bit values are fully coupled and mutually interconnected. Moreover, because the strength of the coupling between bits can be expressed in detail with up to 64 bits, providing 18.45 quintillion gradations, the Digital Annealer can solve even large-scale, complex problems that cannot be solved by current Ising machines or quantum annealing machines.
2. Stable operations due to digital circuitry
The Digital Annealer employs digital circuitry in its design, and as a result operates stably at room temperature without specialized cooling equipment, and results will not be significantly impacted by noise.
3. Automatic tuning mode option available
Previously, applying the Digital Annealer to combinatorial optimization problems demanded expert knowledge and hours of work in order to determine control parameters most, appropriate for the problem. Now, by incorporating technology to automatically adjust control parameters based on results observed during the computation process, Fujitsu has created an automatic tuning function. This will enable customers to get solutions without adjusting Digital Annealer control parameters themselves.
Going forward, Fujitsu aims to provide support for even larger scale combinatorial optimization problems of up to 1 million bits through technologies like the problem segmentation technology developed by Fujitsu Laboratories, thereby contributing to new business applications in a wide variety of fields, such as drug discovery, chemistry, transportation, finance, and logistics. In addition, Fujitsu plans to expand the use of the Digital Annealer in various regions, under the lead of Fujitsu Intelligence Technology, a new company developing Fujitsu's global AI business that began operations in Vancouver, Canada, in November 2018.
Fujitsu aims for sales of 100 billion yen in the five years leading up to fiscal 2022.