The 4th International Conference on Quantum Technologies held in Moscow last month was supposed to put the spotlight on Google, who were preparing to give a lecture on a 49-qubit quantum computer they have in the works.
A morning talk presented by Harvard University’s Mikhail Lukin, however, upstaged that evening’s event with a small announcement of his own his team of American and Russian researchers had successfully tested a 51-qubit device, setting a landmark in the race for quantum supremacy.
Quantum computers are considered to be part of the next generation in revolutionary technology; devices that make use of the odd ‘in-between’ states of quantum particles to accelerate the processing power of digital machines.
The truth is both fascinating and disappointing. It’s unlikely we’ll be playing Grand Theft Auto VR8K-3000 on a quantum-souped Playstation 7 any time soon. Sorry, folks.
Quantum computing isn’t all about swapping one kind of chip for a faster one.
What it does do is give us a third kind of bit where typical computers have only two. In quantum computing, we apply quantum superposition that odd cloud of ‘maybes’ that a particle occupies before we observe its existence cemented as one of two different states to solving highly complex computational problems.
While those kinds of problems are a long, tedious process that tax even our best supercomputers, a quantum computer’s “qubit” mix of 1s, 0s, and that extra space in between can make exercises such as simulating quantum systems in molecules or factorising prime numbers vastly easier to crunch.
That’s not to say quantum computing could never be a useful addition for your home desktop. But to even begin dreaming of the possibilities, there are a whole number of problems to solve first.
One of them is to ramp up a measly handful of qubits from less than 20 to something that can begin to rival our best classical supercomputers on those trickier tasks.
That number? About 50-odd, a figure that’s often referred to in rather rapturous terms as quantum supremacy.
The Harvard device was based on an array of super-cooled atoms of rubidium held in a trap of magnets and laser ‘tweezers’ that were then excited in a fashion that allowed their quantum states to be used as a single system.
The researchers were able to control 51 of these trapped atoms in such a way that they could model some pretty complex quantum mechanics, something well out of reach of your everyday desktop computer.
While the modelling was mostly used to test the limits of this kind of set-up, the researchers gained useful insights into the quantum dynamics associated with what’s called many-body phenomena.
Fortunately they were still able to test their relatively simpler discoveries using classical computers, finding their technique was right on the money.
The research is currently on the pre-publish website arXiv.com, awaiting peer review. But the announcement certainly has the quantum computing community talking about the possibilities and consequences of achieving such limits.
The magical number of 50 qubits is more like a relative horizon than a true landmark. Not much has changed in the world of quantum computing with the Harvard announcement, and we still have a long way to go before this kind of technology will be useful in making any significant discoveries.
Google’s own plan for a 49-qubit device uses a completely different process to Lukin’s, relying on multiple-qubit quantum chips that employ a solid-state superconducting structure called a Josephson junction.
They’ve proven their technology with a simpler 9-qubit version, and plan to gradually step up to their goal.
Without going into detail, each of the technologies has its pros and cons when it comes to scaling and reliability.
A significant problem with quantum computing will be how to make the system as reliable and error-free as possible. While classical computing can duplicate processes to reduce the risk of mistakes, the probabilistic nature of qubits makes this impossible for quantum calculations.
There’s also the question on how to connect a number of units together to form ever larger processors.
Which methods will address these concerns best in the long run is anybody’s guess.
“There are several platforms that are very promising, and they are all entering the regime where it is getting interesting, you know, system sizes you cannot simulate with classical computers,” Lukin said to Himanshu Goenka from International Business Times.
“But I think it is way premature to pick a winner among them. Moreover, if we are thinking about truly large scales, hundreds of thousands of qubits, systems which will be needed for some algorithms, to be honest, I don’t think anyone knows how to go there.”
It’s a small step on the road to a hundred thousand qubits, but it doesn’t make passing this milestone any less significant.
Happy 51, Harvard!
See the article here:
We’re About to Cross The ‘Quantum Supremacy’ Limit in Computing – ScienceAlert
- Intel moves towards production quantum computing with new 17 ... - October 11th, 2017
- Quantum computer a possibility in 10 years - News.com.au - NEWS.com.au - September 7th, 2017
- Scientists Propose a New Kind of Quantum Computer, But What ... - Gizmodo - September 7th, 2017
- Quantum detectives in the hunt for the world's first quantum computer - Phys.Org - September 7th, 2017
- Scientists Just Found A Use For The Hashtag In Quantum Computing - Gizmodo Australia - September 4th, 2017
- The Future of AI: From Quantum Computing to the Internet of Things - Outer Places - September 4th, 2017
- Explaining the Most Recent Record for Quantum Computing: A 51-Qubit Quantum Computer Array - All About Circuits - September 2nd, 2017
- USRA Upgrades D-Wave Quantum Computer to 2000 Qubits - insideHPC - September 1st, 2017
- Quantum encrypted box hints at unhackable communication - Wired.co.uk - September 1st, 2017
- Quantum Computer Programming: What You Need to Learn to Get ... - TrendinTech - September 1st, 2017
- Google's John Martinis Believes Quantum Computing Threat to Be Long Way Off - Bitcoin News (press release) - August 31st, 2017
- Australian quantum computing outfit goes commercial - Networks Asia - August 31st, 2017
- Elusive Majorana Particle Takes Major Step Towards Quantum Computing - IEEE Spectrum - August 29th, 2017
- Australia gets quantum computing company - ACS (registration) - August 28th, 2017
- Quantum Computing and Financial Trading - LeapRate - August 28th, 2017
- Russians Lead the Quantum Computer Race With 51-Qubit Machine - Edgy Labs (blog) - August 28th, 2017
- Bitcoin vs. The NSAs Quantum Computer Bitcoin Not Bombs - August 26th, 2017
- qBitcoin: A Way of Making Bitcoin Quantum-Computer Proof? - IEEE Spectrum - August 26th, 2017
- Hype and cash are muddying public understanding of quantum ... - Phys.Org - August 26th, 2017
- Silicon Quantum Computing launched to commercialise UNSW ... - ZDNet - August 23rd, 2017
- IEEE Approves Standards Project for Quantum Computing ... - Business Wire (press release) - August 23rd, 2017
- Introducing Australia's first quantum computing hardware company - CIO Australia - August 23rd, 2017
- What is quantum computer? - Definition from WhatIs.com - August 22nd, 2017
- Hype and cash are muddying public understanding of quantum computing - The Conversation AU - August 22nd, 2017
- Finns chill out quantum computers with qubit refrigerator to cut out errors - ZDNet - August 22nd, 2017
- UNSW joins with government and business to keep quantum computing technology in Australia - The Australian Financial Review - August 22nd, 2017
- 'Tools of DESTRUCTION' Quantum computers WILL wreak havoc ... - Express.co.uk - August 19th, 2017
- Quantum computing comes of age - Alphr - August 14th, 2017
- No, Quantum Teleportation Won't Let Us Send Instant Messages to Alpha Centauri - Air & Space Magazine - August 12th, 2017
- Google on track for quantum computer breakthrough by end of ... - August 11th, 2017
- Closing In On Quantum Computing | WIRED - August 11th, 2017
- World's Leading Physicist Says Quantum Computers Are Tools of Destruction, Not Creation - Futurism - August 10th, 2017
- Will you be able to trust a quantum computer? - Digital Journal - August 9th, 2017
- New Methods of Controlling Electrons Could be Major in Quantum Computing - TrendinTech - August 5th, 2017
- Exactly what could quantum computers do? - Electronics Weekly - August 4th, 2017
- What is quantum computing and why does the future of Earth depend on it? - Alphr - August 2nd, 2017
- The Age of Quantum Computers is upon us! - Gizbot - August 2nd, 2017
- Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing | MIT News - MIT News - August 1st, 2017
- Clarifiying complex chemical processes with quantum computers - Phys.Org - August 1st, 2017
- When Will Quantum Computers Be Consumer Products? - Futurism - August 1st, 2017
- Quantum Computers Just Moved a Step Closer to Reality - NBCNews.com - August 1st, 2017
- A New Breakthrough in Quantum Computing is Set to Transform Our ... - Futurism - August 1st, 2017
- Quantum computers compete for supremacy - Salon - July 10th, 2017
- Quantum Computers Compete for "Supremacy" - Scientific American - July 5th, 2017
- Less is more for Canadian quantum computing researchers - ITworld - July 4th, 2017
- New method could enable more stable and scalable quantum ... - Phys.Org - July 4th, 2017
- Volkswagen buys D-Wave quantum computers which sell for $15 million each - Robotics and Automation News (press release) (registration) - July 2nd, 2017
- 6 Things Quantum Computers Will Be Incredibly Useful For - Singularity Hub - July 1st, 2017
- Quantum Machine Learning Computer Hybrids at the Center of New Start-Ups - TrendinTech - June 20th, 2017
- Israel Enters Quantum Computer Race, Placing Encryption at Ever-Greater Risk - Sputnik International - June 20th, 2017
- Prototype device enables photon-photon interactions at room ... - Phys.Org - June 20th, 2017
- The Quantum Computer Factory That's Taking on Google and IBM - WIRED - June 20th, 2017
- Toward optical quantum computing - MIT News - June 17th, 2017
- Get ahead in quantum computing AND attract Goldman Sachs - eFinancialCareers - June 16th, 2017
- KPN CISO details Quantum computing attack dangers - Mobile World Live - June 16th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Technologies markets will reach $10.7 billion by 2024 - PR Newswire (press release) - June 14th, 2017
- From the Abacus to Supercomputers to Quantum Computers - Duke Today - June 13th, 2017
- Quantum Computers Will Analyze Every Financial Model at Once - Singularity Hub - June 13th, 2017
- Are Enterprises Ready to Take a Quantum Leap? - IT Business Edge - June 13th, 2017
- Scientists May Have Found a Way to Combat Quantum Computer Blockchain Hacking - Futurism - June 13th, 2017
- Microsoft and Purdue work on scalable topological quantum computer - Next Big Future - June 13th, 2017
- Doped Diamonds Push Practical Quantum Computing Closer to Reality - Motherboard - June 3rd, 2017
- Team develops first blockchain that can't be hacked by quantum computer - Siliconrepublic.com - June 3rd, 2017
- D-Wave partners with U of T to move quantum computing along - Financial Post - June 2nd, 2017
- Telstra just wants a quantum computer to offer as-a-service - ZDNet - June 1st, 2017
- Microsoft, Purdue Tackle Topological Quantum Computer - HPCwire - HPCwire (blog) - June 1st, 2017
- MIT Just Unveiled A Technique to Mass Produce Quantum Computers - Futurism - June 1st, 2017
- Here's How We Can Achieve Mass-Produced Quantum Computers - ScienceAlert - June 1st, 2017
- Research collaborative pursues advanced quantum computing - Phys.Org - June 1st, 2017
- AI and Quantum Computers Are Our Best Weapons Against Cyber Criminals - Futurism - June 1st, 2017
- Scientists claim to have invented the world's first quantum-proof ... - ScienceAlert - June 1st, 2017
- Google Plans to Demonstrate the Supremacy of Quantum ... - IEEE Spectrum - May 25th, 2017
- Top 5: Things to know about quantum computers - TechRepublic - May 25th, 2017
- Is the US falling behind in the race for quantum computing? - AroundtheO - May 25th, 2017
- Artificial intelligence and quantum computing aid cyber crime fight - Financial Times - May 25th, 2017
- IBM Q Offers Quantum Computing as a Service The Merkle - The Merkle - May 25th, 2017
- Graphene Just Brought Us One Step Closer to Practical Quantum Computers - Futurism - May 25th, 2017
- How quantum computing increases cybersecurity risks | Network ... - Network World - May 25th, 2017
- US playing catch-up in quantum computing - The Register-Guard - May 22nd, 2017
- Researchers push forward quantum computing research - The ... - Economic Times - May 22nd, 2017