Intel's new 17-qubit chip marches toward the quantum computing future

A technician peers through a door at one of Intel’s fabs.				Intel

A technician peers through a door at one of Intel’s fabs. Intel

Over the past few years, the quantum computing race has slowly but steadily intensified.

Microsoft said its new quantum computing language, which has yet to be named, is "deeply integrated" with its Visual Studio development environment and does numerous things other standard programming languages do. In the video above, you can see Intel and QuTech unbox the chip and explain the process of creating it. Once observed or copied, a qubit will no longer exist in its original state and this is a massive issue when approaching quantum computing as a replacement for traditional bits and transistors, requiring a whole different approach. This is the reason why the death of Moore's Law feels imminent, and why this time Moore's Law dying is not just a false alarm.

Intel made its new chip in Hillsboro, [Oregon], the company's most advanced research and manufacturing site. Once we reach the single-atom or a small group of atoms, we may have no choice but to go deeper into the quantum world and build quantum chips instead of classical ones. Today that all changes, with Intel announcing the delivery of a new 17-qubit to QuTech, a move it says "demonstrates the fast progress Intel and QuTech are making in researching and developing a working quantum computing system". The chip doesn't seem to be too far behind Google's own experimental 20-qubit quantum computer (which is due for another upgrade soon) or IBM's soon to be commercially ready 17-qubit quantum computer. These include the superconducting qubits incorporated into this newest test chip, and an alternative type called spin qubits in silicon.

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Advanced processes, materials and designs that enable Intel's packaging to scale for quantum integrated circuits, which are much larger than conventional silicon chips. Making qubits (the building blocks of quantum computing) uniform and stable is one such obstacle. It also underscores the importance of material science and semiconductor manufacturing in realizing the promise of quantum computing. It will provide a more improved reliability, thermal performance, and reduced radio frequency interference between qubits.

"Intel's expertise in fabrication, control electronics and architecture sets us apart and will serve us well as we venture into new computing paradigms, from neuromorphic to quantum computing", said Michael Mayberry, who works in Hillsboro as managing director of Intel Labs.

Quantum computing, in essence, is the ultimate in parallel computing, with the potential to tackle problems conventional computers can't handle. While classical computers utilize bits - which can be only one of two values - quantum computing opens the door to quantum bits (qubits), which can represent two different values at the same time through superposition, thereby solving problems much faster than classical computers can.

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