Sci-tech

Intel works on "next stage" of quantum computing

Intel works on

Intel delivered a 17-qubit chip to its research partner in that field, QuTech, the quantum research Institute of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. It also underscores the importance of material science and semiconductor manufacturing in realizing the promise of quantum computing.

However, despite much experimental progress and speculation, there are inherent challenges to building viable, large-scale quantum systems that produce accurate outputs.

Intel still have to jump the hurdles affecting all potential quantum computers right now, and they aren't easily bypassed. They can only run at extremely low temperatures and must be covered carefully to prevent data loss. It's important because qubits have an optimal operating temperature of around 20 millikelvin, which Intel says is about "250 times colder than deep space".

The catch is it's hard to make qubits uniform and stable because they need extreme cooling.

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

Intel Lab's Dr. Michael Mayberry said, "Our quantum research has progressed to the point where our partner QuTech is simulating quantum algorithm workloads, and Intel is fabricating new qubit test chips on a regular basis in our leading-edge manufacturing facilities".

Additionally, Intel says that the processes, materials and designs it has used mean that the packaging can scale for quantum ICs, which are larger than silicon types. In the past, Intel have been quite content to leave parallel computing to the GPU giants - AMD and Nvidia - although quantum computing may offer the processor behemoth another shot at the computational heavyweights. The announcement comes at an exciting time for quantum computing in general as several major advances have been announced this year.

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

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. Other companies, notably Microsoft Corp., are also reporting big advances with their own research. The collaboration spans the entire quantum system - or "stack" - from qubit devices to the hardware and software architecture required to control these devices as well as quantum applications. Intel then creates a chip with more qubits, for more testing, and the cycle continues. Intel's goal is to hit a goal of 49 qubits on a processor.



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