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Hardware overview

About IBM Quantum hardware

IBM Quantum offers both open and premium access to a wide variety of quantum systems. All quantum systems deployed by IBM Quantum are based on superconducting qubit technology, as the control and scalability of this technology pave a clear path to achieving quantum advantage with these systems. You can see the full details of all IBM Quantum systems on the Compute resources page (opens in a new tab).

Processor types

Processor types are named for the general technology qualities that go into builds, consisting of the family and revision. Family (e.g., Falcon) refers to the size and scale of circuits possible on the chip. This is primarily determined by the number of qubits and the connectivity graph. Revisions (e.g., r1) are design variants within a given family, often leading to performance improvements or tradeoffs. Segments are comprised of chip sub-sections, and are defined within a given family. For instance, segment H of a Falcon consists of seven qubits arranged as seen in the illustration below. Segment H on a Hummingbird, if implemented, could be entirely different.


Illustration of segment H on a Falcon processor.


Osprey processor icon

Osprey is nearly quadruple the size of Eagle at 433 qubits. The larger chip sizes have required further enhancements to device packaging, as well as custom flex cabling in the cryostat to fit the greater I/O requirements within the same wiring footprint.


Eagle processor icon

At 127 qubits, the Eagle processor family incorporates more scalable packaging technologies than previous generations. In particular, signals pass through multiple chip layers so as to allow for high-density I/O without sacrificing performance.

See this blog post (opens in a new tab) for more about the Eagle processor family.


r3 (December 2022) Eagle r3 is a version of the 127-qubit processor with enhanced coherence properties but otherwise similar design parameters to Eagle r1.

r1 (December 2021) At the qubit level, Eagle r1 uses similar design elements and parameters to Falcon r5.11, enabling similarly fast readout. Gate speeds and error rates should also be similar.


Hummingbird processor icon

Using a heavy-hexagonal qubit layout, the Hummingbird family allows up to 65 qubits.


r3 (December 2021) This version of Hummingbird with 65 qubits has enhanced coherence properties.

r2 (August 2020) Released in 3Q 2020, this revision contains 65 qubits. Improvements previously demonstrated on Falcons, like readout multiplexing, space-efficient qubit-qubit couplers, and flip-chip technology enhanced the capabilities of the Hummingbird family and led to a scalable 65Q design.

r1 (October 2019) This revision is the first attempt at supporting a large (>50) number of qubits on a chip.


Egret processor icon

Egret brings the innovations of tunable couplers onto a 33-qubit platform, resulting in faster and higher-fidelity two-qubit gates.


r1 (December 2022) The first realization of the Egret processor has demonstrated the highest Quantum Volume among IBM Quantum systems and a substantial improvement in two-qubit gate error rates ( (opens in a new tab)). This new quantum processor boasts a substantial speedup and fidelity improvement (many gates approaching 99.9%) in two-qubit gates while reducing spectator errors.


Falcon processor icon

The Falcon family of devices offers a valuable platform for medium-scale circuits, and also serves as a valuable platform for demonstrating performance and scalability improvements before they’re pushed onto the larger devices.


r8 (September 2021) In addition to the features of r5.11, Falcon r8 has enhanced coherence properties.

r5.11 (January 2021) In addition to the filtering in r5.10, design improvements target speed-ups in qubit state readout. An essential requirement for quantum error correction demonstrations is fast readout. To enable this, the paradoxical requirements of stronger readout coupling yet protection from qubit relaxation is accomplished with advanced filtering techniques and fine tuning of various components’ couplings on-chip. This revision, combined with the latest in control electronics, enables mid-circuit measurements.

r5.10 (December 2020) This revision pioneered advanced on-chip filtering techniques that eventually led to the faster qubit state readout in r5.11. The filters reduce qubit relaxation and preserve lifetime. Additionally, space-saving “direct-couplers” are used to couple qubits together, essential for scaling to larger bird families.

r4 (April 2020) Adding to the capabilities of r1, the r4 is the first revision in the large birds to deploy multiplexed readout. Previous designs required an independent signal pathway on the chip, as well as in the dilution refrigerator and control electronics for qubit state readout.

r1 (February 2020) The first generation of the Falcon family, r1 is a 28Q offering independent readout, contrasting to the multiplexed configurations in the other revisions. The flip-chip technology allowed scaling to a larger number of qubits. The heavy-hex connectivity graph is employed for the first time here, optimal for our two-qubit gate of choice, cross-resonance.


Canary processor icon

The Canary family comprises small designs containing anywhere from 5 to 16 qubits. It uses an optimized 2D lattice. That is, all of the qubits and readout resonators are on the same layer.


r1.3 (December 2019) A stripped-down offering containing only a single qubit.

r1.1 (May 2017) Using the similar design processes to r1, r1.1 extends the design to include 16 qubits.

r1 (January 2017) Initial 5Q design with resonators and qubits all on a single lithography layer.

System configuration values

The following is a subset of system configuration values available in IBM Quantum and from Qiskit.

These values are shown on both the Systems and Simulators tabs of the Compute resources page (opens in a new tab) and the details page for each system.

  • Name - The unique name assigned to a specific quantum system or simulator. Backends hosted on IBM Cloud® have names that begin with ibmq_* (older systems) or ibm_* (newer systems). All quantum systems are given a city name, e.g., ibmq_johannesburg. This name does not indicate where the actual quantum system is hosted. They are named after IBM locations around the world.
  • Qubits - The number of qubits in a system. For physical quantum systems, this is the number of physical qubits in the device. For simulators, this number need not be uniquely defined, and instead can depend on the simulation method and/or the amount of memory available.
  • QV - Quantum volume. This value measures the performance of gate-based quantum computers, regardless of their underlying technology.
  • CLOPS - CLOPS, or circuit layer operations per second, is a measure of how many layers of a QV circuit a QPU (quantum processing unit) can execute per unit of time. Find more information about this metric in the paper called Quality, Speed, and Scale: three key attributes to measure the performance of near-term quantum computers. (opens in a new tab)
  • Status - The system status.
  • Total pending jobs - The total number of jobs that you have submitted to this system.
  • Processor type - Reflects the system topology and indicates the approximate qubit count.
  • Features - Additional information about the system, such as whether it can be reserved and whether it supports pulse inputs.

Additional information available on the details page for each system

To access the details page, click the name of the system on the Compute resources page.

  • Version - The version number of a system in the form major.minor.revision. See System versioning for details on how this number is assigned.

  • Calibration data (Available for systems only) - Download the calibration data as a .csv file or click the arrow to display the Topology diagram, Individual qubit readout graph, or the Calibration data table. You can customize the data that is shown, depending on the view you have open. For example, on the Topology diagram, you can choose the data you want to see for connections and qubits. The colored bars associated with the diagram or graph indicate the range that is shown, with the average value marked. The color maximum and minimum change depending on the system.

    • Topology diagram or coupling map - A diagram that indicates the pairs of qubits that support two-qubit gate operations between them. This is also called the coupling map or connectivity. Qubits are represented as circles and the supported two-qubit gate operations are displayed as lines connecting the qubits.
    • Individual qubit properties - Shows the selected property for each qubit on the system. You can view the frequency, T1, T2, Anharmonicity, probability measurements, error rates, and so on.
  • Your access instance - Instances that you can use. Click the arrow on the right to expand or collapse this section. For each instance, you can see the following information:

    • Max shots - The maximum number of times you can execute a single circuit on a system. The number of shots taken determines the precision of the output probability distribution over repeated executions.
    • Max circuits - The maximum number of quantum circuits that you can submit to this system at one time.
    • Max qubits per pulse gate - The maximum number of qubit arguments allowed to a gate.
    • Max channels per pulse gate - The maximum number of channels you can refer to within a pulse schedule. Typically each qubit is associated with a drive channel, a measure channel, an acquisition channel, and then auxiliary control channels for things like cross resonance.
    • Usage - Click the link to see the jobs that you have run on this system.

View system configuration

View system configuration values by selecting a system on the Systems tab of the Compute resources page. (opens in a new tab) The three tabs in the Calibration data section let you choose how to view the calibration data; the Map view tab is automatically selected.


An expanded card for a sample system.

Click the download icon in the upper right of any tab to download a CSV file of calibration data.


The Graph view tab.


The Table view tab.

View system properties

In contrast to the system configuration that remains static on the timescale of typical experiments, the properties of a system are dynamical quantities that update at system calibration time. Systems are nominally calibrated once over a 24-hour period, and the system properties update once this calibration sequence is complete. The properties play a critical role in quantum circuit execution, as the parameters within the properties are utilized for noise-aware circuit mapping and optimization (transpilation). Additionally, system properties are used for constructing noise models of a system for use in classical simulation methods.

You can most easily obtain a quantum system’s properties with Qiskit, but you can also obtain them by downloading the “calibrations” CSV file for a given system on IBM Quantum (see View system configuration for more information).

  • system name - gives the name of the system.

  • system version - specifies the version of the system, as described in the system versioning section.

  • last update date - gives the local time at which the properties information was last updated. This is the time at which the full properties file was returned from the system. Individual elements in the properties give the times at which they were computed. Depending on the device calibration schedule, these times can be markedly different than the last update date.

  • qubits - contains information on the physical attributes of the qubits. This includes the qubit frequency in GHz, T1 and T2 times in µs, and readout error. As shown below, the readout_error is further partitioned into prob_meas0_prep1 and prob_meas1_prep0, indicating the probability of preparing a given computational basis state, but measuring the orthogonal state. The readout error is taken to be the average of these two values. Note that prob_meas0_prep1 is usually the dominant factor in the readout error due to relaxation during the measurement process. The qubits field is a list indexed by the qubit number.

    [Nduv(datetime.datetime(2020, 12, 7, 9, 5, 37, tzinfo=tzlocal()), T1, us, 134.6122100394965),
     Nduv(datetime.datetime(2020, 12, 7, 9, 6, 19, tzinfo=tzlocal()), T2, us, 69.51042482642832),
     Nduv(datetime.datetime(2020, 12, 7, 9, 21, 20, tzinfo=tzlocal()), frequency, GHz, 4.743896496595851),
     Nduv(datetime.datetime(2020, 12, 7, 9, 21, 20, tzinfo=tzlocal()), anharmonicity, GHz, -0.31386048358781926),
     Nduv(datetime.datetime(2020, 12, 7, 9, 4, 47, tzinfo=tzlocal()), readout_error, , 0.06969999999999998),
     Nduv(datetime.datetime(2020, 12, 7, 9, 4, 47, tzinfo=tzlocal()), prob_meas0_prep1, , 0.0796),
     Nduv(datetime.datetime(2020, 12, 7, 9, 4, 47, tzinfo=tzlocal()), prob_meas1_prep0, , 0.0598),
     Nduv(datetime.datetime(2020, 12, 7, 9, 4, 47, tzinfo=tzlocal()), readout_length, ns, 5813.333333333333)

    We see that each qubit parameter is expressed as an Nduv (name, date, unit value) object containing the local time at which the parameter was updated, the parameter name, parameter units, and the actual numerical parameter value.

    • gates - gives detailed information on each gate that the system supports executing. For every single-qubit gate listed in the system basis gates, there exists an entry in the properties that gives the details of that gate, for each qubit on which the gate can be applied. Each entry is in the form of a Gate object:

      Gate(gate='u2', name='u2_0', parameters=[Nduv('2020-06-06T09:06:46Z', gate_error, , 0.00022436814887248838), Nduv('2020-06-06T10:03:18Z', gate_length, ns, 35.55555555555556)], qubits=[0])

      and lists the kind of gate (u2 in the example), its name, a list specifying the qubits on which the gate acts, and a parameters attribute, gates.parameters:

      [Nduv('2020-06-06T09:06:46Z', gate_error, , 0.00022436814887248838),
       Nduv('2020-06-06T10:03:18Z', gate_length, ns, 35.55555555555556)]

      containing Nduv objects specifying the gate error and gate length.

      The same holds for multi-qubit gates, where there is an entry for each directed edge in the system coupling map. For symmetric coupling maps, the directionality of the underlying gate is still important. For example,

      Gate(gate='cx', name='cx3_4', parameters=[Nduv('2020-06-06T10:03:18Z', gate_error, , 0.009793933588297388), Nduv('2020-06-06T10:03:18Z', gate_length, ns, 327.1111111111111)], qubits=[3, 4])


      Gate(gate='cx', name='cx4_3', parameters=[Nduv('2020-06-06T10:03:18Z', gate_error, , 0.009793933588297388), Nduv('2020-06-06T10:03:18Z', gate_length, ns, 362.66666666666663)], qubits=[4, 3])

System versioning

Each system has a version number in the form X.Y.Z (major.minor.revision). A circuit compiled for a given system version number is guaranteed to run on that system. If the revision number changes, the circuit will continue to run. If the major or minor number changes, the circuit is not guaranteed to run, although it may do so. The conditions under which a version number may change are listed below:

Major version

The major version will increment for system changes such as:

  • Sample changes.
  • Major changes to the control electronics.
  • Moving the system to a new location, if significant behavior changes result.

Minor version

The minor version will increment for changes such as:

  • Warmup / cool-down cycles.
  • Swapping out some electronics, if the replacement appreciably affects operation.
  • Changing the direction of a controlled-NOT gate.
  • Dropping a gate for some duration of time due to calibration issues, and corrections cannot readily be done in software.

Revision version

The revision version number will increment for fixes that do not break the existing compiled circuit. These changes include:

  • Manual calibrations to improve fidelities.
  • Small electronics changes that don’t affect operation.
  • System software updates.

Cite a system

For research papers, we encourage authors to acknowledge IBM Quantum using:

We acknowledge the use of IBM Quantum services for this work. The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not reflect the official policy or position of IBM or the IBM Quantum team.

Paper references should be cited as follows:

IBM Quantum., 2021

Systems in the paper should be referenced by their unique name (i.e., ibmq_vigo) and optionally adding the version (i.e., ibmq_vigo v1.0.2). We also encourage referencing the processor. For example:

In this paper we used ibmq_vigo, which is one of the IBM Quantum Canary processors.

An example of citing an IBM Quantum program:

IBM Quantum (2022). Estimator primitive (Version x.y.z) [computer software].

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