March 18, 2018

Intel's Big Step towards Quantum Computing with New 17-qubit Chip

11 October 2017, 05:55 | Casey Mitchell

Intel's quantum computing chip has as many quantum bits or qubits as IBM

Intel shows off its latest chip for quantum computing as it looks past Moore's Law

Intel has delivered the 17-qubit test chip to its quantum research partner QuTech, in the Netherlands. Intel's collaborative relationship with QuTech to accelerate advancements in quantum computing began in 2015. Also the needs of material science are underscored as well as manufacturing the semiconductors realizes the quantum computing promises. Quantum computing processes in parallel compared to traditional processors that are binary.

QuTech is a research centre for quantum computing, founded by the technical university of Delft and Dutch research lab TNO.

However, building large-scale, accurate quantum computers is a challenge; one of which is producing heterogenous, stable qubits. Classic computers encode information in regular "bits", represented by ones and zeros, but quantum computers encode information in "qubits", which can be ones, zeros or both at the same time. Qubits are incredibly fragile, and they require incredibly low temperatures to function - much lower than even the murky emptiness of space. Intel has teams working on the packaging challenges associated with these extreme temperatures.

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Intel's architecture for its 17-qubit test chip improves an architecture that improves reliability and cuts down on interference between qubits.

Intel has fabricated the new chip and it has been featured with the unique design to reach improved performance and yield.

In the race to build a quantum computer, companies around the world are making progress - albeit, slowly. Through this partnership, the time from design and fabrication to test has been greatly accelerated.

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"With this test chip, we'll focus on connecting, controlling and measuring multiple, entangled qubits towards an error correction scheme and a logical qubit", said professor Leo DiCarlo of QuTech.

Clearly, Intel still has plenty of work to do before it can deliver a truly functional quantum computer, but today's announcement signals that it has every intention of doing so.

QuTech is simulating quantum workloads with the aim of ultimately developing a full stack of devices.

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The project spans qubit devices, the hardware and software architecture required to control them, as well as quantum applications. All of these elements are essential to advancing quantum computing from research to reality. Other companies, notably Microsoft Corp., are also reporting big advances with their own research. These include the superconducting qubits incorporated into this newest test chip, and an alternative type called spin qubits in silicon.

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