Intel Unleashes 17-Qubit Superconducting Test Chip For Quantum Computing

QuTech Professor Leo Di Carlo in the quantum computing lab at QuTechQuTech

QuTech Professor Leo Di Carlo in the quantum computing lab at QuTechQuTech

Intel said it works at 20 millikelvin, extremely close to the coldest temperatures in the Universe, to make the qubits operate correctly.

As for Intel, the next step will see its partner QuTech test each of the 17 qubits on the new chip individually, followed by tests created to gauge the chip's performance once those qubits are entangled and working together.

For example, IBM Corp. announced its own 16-qubit quantum chip earlier this year, while Google Inc.is planning to provide select researchers access to its own quantum computers via the cloud. By no means is the world of quantum computing new terrain for Intel, which has been working with QuTech for the past couple of years on research and development aimed at producing a working quantum computing system.

The world's largest semiconductor company announced the delivery of a 17-qubit superconducting test processor for quantum computing to QuTech, its quantum research partner based in the Netherlands.

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"The chip was fabricated by Intel and features a unique design to achieve improved yield and performance", said Intel.

The architecture lends itself to "improved reliability, thermal performance, and reduced radio frequency interference between qubits".

The managing director and corporate vice president of Intel Labs, Dr. Michael Mayberry said that, "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".

Despite quantum computing's very long rampup and recent growth spurt, the field is full of open questions. It has demonstrated circuit blocks for an integrated cryogenic CMOS control system, spin qubit fabrication on a 300mm process and packaging for superconducting qubits. Through this partnership, the time from design and fabrication to test has been greatly accelerated.

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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. With initiatives such as quantum computing, the company is working to get ahead in emerging technologies.

Intel and QuTech are working on the entire quantum stack, from hardware to applications. It's far from clear what the superior qubit design will be so Intel is investigating multiple qubit types. The qubit in silicon technology leverages Intel's transistor expertise, where the superconducting qubits rely heavily on innovations in its packaging space. These spin qubits resemble a single electron transistor similar in many ways to conventional transistors and potentially able to be manufactured with comparable processes.

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