Intel has brought the quantum computing race on the front lines again by showing off a new 17-qubit chip – a move that is indicative of the semiconductor company’s intentions of getting a head start in the advanced computing arena.
The new chip has been developed at Hillsboro, which is Intel’s most advanced research and manufacturing site. The new chip that holds the promise of paving way for advanced computing to solve real world complex problems consists of 17 qubits – the basic building blocks of quantum computing.
If we look at conventional computing, it relies on binary information, commonly expressed as a 1 or zero. Quantum computing on the other hand relies on qubits – bits that can be in more than one state at a time, enabling more complex work. For example, Intel said Tuesday that quantum computers could simulate the complex natural world to enable advances in chemistry and molecular modeling.
Qubits are very fragile and must operate at temperatures much colder than outer space. But Intel said it’s now making them regularly. The company maintains its advances in materials science and semiconductor manufacturing can apply to quantum computing, too, potentially giving it an advantage in the field.
The new quantum computing chip was delivered to a Dutch institute, QuTech, which it has partnered with for research into quantum computing. The computer processor maker has already committed $50 million to the work.
“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.
While Intel dominates the market for conventional computers such as PCs and laptops, the company has lagged in mobile technology and faces growing competition in hot fields such as artificial intelligence. With initiatives such as quantum computing, the company is working to get ahead in emerging technologies. Microsoft, IBM and Google are also developing their quantum computing technology. Intel says its work differs from rival initiatives because it’s looking at multiple types of qubits.