Intel Unveils ‘Breakthrough’ Quantum Computers at CES 2018

by January 11, 2018


Along with several research groups, Intel indicated that computers with previously unimaginable power are finally within reach. Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO, predicted that quantum technology will solve problems that today might take our best supercomputers months or years to resolve, such as drug development, financial modeling and climate forecasting. This is mainly suited for factoring large numbers, solving complex problems and executing machine-learning algorithms.


About Intel’s Quantum

Intel’s quantum computing efforts take a major step forward as it has 0.0049 percent of a viable quantum computer. Intel announced a 17-qubit superconducting chip which is meant to pave the path for the future powered by quantum computers. Recently at CES 2018, Brian Krzanich showed off its latest superconductivity test chip, the 49-qubit Tangle Lake.

‘This incredible technology adds to the breadth of AI solutions that Intel is developing’, Said Brian at the event.

A 49-qubit system is a major advance for Intel, which just demonstrated a 17-qubit system two months ago. Intel is working with the Netherlands-based Qutech on this project and expanding the number of qubits is the key to creating quantum computers that can deliver real-world results.


Why are Quantum Computers Not Found Frequently?

These computers are not found frequently as these are quite sensitive in nature. Any noise or unintended observation of them can cause data loss. This fragility requires them to operate at about 20 millikelvin-250 times colder than deep space. While early classical computers were also room-sized and required commensurate cooling solutions, there’s no known way to build hand-sized or even desktop quantum machine that incorporates the cooling required.

Intel has increased its system from 17 qubit to 49 qubit which improves reliability and thermal performance. The company has used a scalable interconnect that allowed for 10-100x more signals into and out of the chip, and incorporated advanced processes and materials to allow Intel to fab the microprocessor in the first place.


New System Named Tangle Lake

The new system is codenamed Tangle Lake, a reference to an Alaskan Lake chain and the tangled state of the electrons themselves. The increasing number of qubits in the computer is important because it allows for a significant amount of additional work to be done and for more complex problems to be considered. This qubit test chip is an important milestone as it will allow researchers to assess and improve error-correction techniques and stimulate computational problems.

Apart from these, Intel is investing on another type of qubit, spin qubits, to see if they can be implemented in silicon. Spin qubits are much smaller and can potentially be implemented in CMOS and Intel has invented a spin qubit fabrication flow on “300mm process technology”. They resemble a single electron transistor, which is similar in many ways to a conventional transistor, and they have the potential to be manufactured with comparable processes.


End Note

Quantum computing has been a major research area for multiple companies since the past few years. The new developments strengthen Intel’s position in the quantum competing and would surely help the company stand out from competitors in this space.