1k-qubit chip late, still controversial
The 1,000-qubit chip promised by D-Wave last year has landed.
FOR MORE THAN two decades, one of the holy grails of physics has been to build a quantum computer that can process certain types of large-scale, very difficult problems exponentially faster than classical computers. Physicists are making progress toward this goal every day, but nearly every part of a quantum computer still needs re-engineering or redesign to make it all work.
With companies like Google and Microsoft seriously pursuing the subject of quantum computing, progress towards creating a indisputable quantum computer is likely to speed up. I say an “indisputable” quantum computer because the Canadian company D-Wave already has a quantum computer on the market; but, scientists are torn over whether it truly operates as a quantum computer.
The 1,000-plus-qubit device was originally planned for the end of 2014.
The doubling of qubits over its previous processor, the company says, gives it a 21000 search space – not only dwarfing the previous 2512 search space, but containing “far more possibilities than there are particles in the observable universe”.
The processors also contain 128,000 Josephson tunnel junctions, the outfit says, which it reckons are “the most complex superconductor integrated circuits ever successfully yielded”.
Just what that means out in the world of computing, we'll have to wait and see. The Register expects the new processor will result in yet more is-it-quantum academic debate in paper and counter-paper (Arxiv should be worth watching) once researchers get their hands on test systems.
At least some aspects of the new chip are familiar, such as discussions about manufacturing yield.
To get the 1,000 qubits – actually 1,152 – the company is fabricating a 2,048 qubit “fabric”.
It then has to run each device through a qualification process to see which qubits are within the performance range, since it says “magnetic offsets and manufacturing variability” disqualify some qubits.
D-Wave says the new processors will land in hardware “soon”.
Source : The Register