China’s Ministry of Science announced on Monday that the country’s first practical quantum computer was delivered to a user it did not identify a year ago.
The 24-qubit Wuyan system is based on superconducting technology built by Origin Quantum Computing Technology, a company founded in 2017 by two of the country’s leading quantum physicists, Guo Guoping and Guo Guancan. A qubit in the quantum world performs the same functions as a bit in the digital world.
With the installation of the Wuyan system on site, China has become the third country, after Canada and the United States, to provide complete quantum computing systems to customers.
Some skeptics questioned the timing of the announcement.
“Quantum technology has a high priority for national security in China. If this is something so important, I doubt the Chinese government would disclose it in this transparent way,” said Weifeng Zhong, a senior researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Fairfax. Wow, explain.
“The fact that it was delayed by a year shows that they now realize that it is not important for national security, so they are trying to use it to build the image of China as a leading country about technology at a time when they were trying to open up. their economy with the rest of the world,” Zhong told TechNewsWorld.
However, Hodan Omaar, senior AI policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation, an organization that researches the intersection of data, technology and public policy in Washington, DC, still affirms the information. The report shows that China has taken an important step in its efforts. quantum development.
“Overcoming the technical challenges on the path towards large-scale quantum computers will depend on the ability to scale the number of qubits in a quantum system, just as modern classical computers do,” Omaar said. depends on the growth in the number of transistors in superconducting chips. TechNewsWorld.
“Investing in near-term quantum computing applications will help accelerate the development of longer-term technology use cases, thereby helping to improve competitiveness,” she added.
Skip Sanzeri, co-founder and COO of QuSecure, a maker of quantum-safe security solutions in San Mateo, California, called the announcement “formidable” because China claims it has a quantum computer. fully functional element, although the number of qubits is low.
“However, error correction and noise reduction are two important factors in ensuring that quantum computers can process data and deliver applications that we can rely on,” Sanzeri told TechNewsWorld. “The announcement that they have been able to reach this level shows that China is making progress towards larger quantum computers.”
Go against the trend
Heather West, senior research analyst at IDC’, an international market research firm, said the Wuyan system appears to be on par with other systems on the market.
“For them to sell a 24-qubit system to someone is not that different from what we’re seeing in other parts of the world,” West told TechNewsWorld.
Offering a standalone system like Wuyan is actually going against the current trend in the market.
“Most of the quantum computers that people are accessing today are accessed through the cloud,” explains Doug Finke, an analyst with Global Quantum Intelligence, an international market intelligence firm.
“This Wuyan computer is being delivered to the customer in on-site condition,” Finke told TechNewsWorld. “At the facility there are many disadvantages. You have to worry about maintenance. You have to worry about spare parts. You have to worry about calibration.”
“In addition,” he continued, “quantum computing innovations are so rapid that they become obsolete after about two years. So few people want to have a quantum computer on-site. They feel much more comfortable with the cloud.”
The Wuyan system is built using superconducting chip technology, one of the earliest technologies for quantum computers. Since its introduction, other technologies have been explored. These include photons, trapped ions, and neutral atoms.
“Right now, no one knows which technology will be the winner or whether there will be a combination of technologies to create effective quantum applications,” Sanzeri said.
“Superconductivity is very difficult,” he explains. “It requires near-zero Kelvin cooling.”
“Electrons used in superconducting quantum computers are difficult to manage due to very short coherence times,” he continued. “That’s why they have to be cooled to such low temperatures.”
Other methods are managing longer coherence times and faster paths to the desired target of 1,000 error-correcting qubits, he added.
“The million-dollar question is which technology will win the race for fault-tolerant quantum computers,” West said. “There may not be a winner. There may not be one system at the top. It may be that certain types of systems are better than others at solving certain types of problems.”
Look far and wide
Omaar countered that superconducting chips have several advantages over competing technologies.
“First, superconducting qubits are solid-state circuits that are easier to control because they are controlled by microwaves,” she said. “Therefore, scientists can use easily accessible commercial microwave devices and devices in superconducting quantum computing applications.”
“Second, because superconducting circuit preparation is based on existing semiconductor chip fabrication methods, the development of high-quality devices can advance advanced chip fabrication technologies,” she continued. good for production and scalability.”
Despite developments like China’s Wuyan system, the emergence of quantum computers that can solve problems beyond the capabilities of silicon computers appears to be years away.
“What quantum computers will do best is solve complex, intractable problems that are beyond the scope of classical computing technology,” West said. “Those problems will take many years before quantum computers can solve them.”
“To achieve that, we need at least a million qubits,” she continued. “That would take a lot of work in scaling and stabilizing the qubits. Qubits are very sensitive to outside noise. The result is a very high error rate in the technology we have.”
Despite the excitement of many, we are still in The early days of quantum computing.
“There are many physical limitations to quantum computing that require precision in terms of path length – we’re talking microns – and resistance to force – footsteps can interfere with it. Supercooled chips just add complexity,” Stiennon told TechNewsWorld.
“I put it in the same realm as developing nuclear fusion that can be used as an energy source,” he said. “Hundreds of billions of dollars and decades will show little progress.”