Intel Moves Quantum Computing Closer To Reality With A 17-Qubit Chip

Published by whurley (10/19/2017)

Legendary Chip Manufacturer Intel Releases New 17-Qubit Superconducting Chip to Research Partner in the Netherlands for Testing.

We got some surprising news from Intel this week. In a press release, the chip king touted the successful fabrication of a 17-qubit superconducting chip by its quantum computing division. The chip is about the size of a quarter (closer to a half-dollar with the packaging).  Intel released this chip to research partner QuTech for testing. QuTech is an advanced research center for quantum computing and quantum internet in the Netherlands. A partnership between Delft University of Technology and TNO, they employ about 30 scientists and 20 support staff.

This new 17-qubit test chip boasts some interesting design features:

  • A new architecture, allowing improved reliability, thermal performance, and reduced radio frequency (RF) interference between qubits
  • A scalable interconnect scheme that allows for 10 to 100 times more signals into and out of the chip
  • Advanced processes, materials, and designs that enable Intel’s packaging to scale for quantum integrated circuits

Taking the Angle

This couldn’t come at a better time for Intel, with industry analysts reporting earlier this year that the company has “floundered execution and has let nearly moribund rival AMD into a position of leadership in the x86 CPU market.” The same source said Intel could lose half of its market capitalization over the next two years. Perhaps the analysts aren’t looking closely enough. Intel is clearly pulling a Wayne Gretzky here,  going where the puck will be, rather than where it’s at.

For those of you who have been reading the blog, you know I think there’s mounting evidence that quantum computing is going to arrive much faster than current estimates. Evidence like Intel jumping into the news this week with such a big story.

Crank Out Those Quantum Chips, Baby. Yeah!

The goal of this effort is more important than “large company gets into cool new tech.”  Intel has created a chip that allows QuTech to test “connecting, controlling, and measuring multiple, entangled qubits towards an error correction scheme and a logical qubit.”  A working error correction scheme would be a good step towards a robust quantum computer. And we know Intel has deep expertise in taking what they learn and building a manufacturing process.

I can’t wait to see what goes down in QuTech’s labs!  QuBits are the building blocks of quantum computing, and making them predictable and stable is one of the biggest challenges in the field. I hope Intel and QuTech’s partnership is a step toward addressing this challenge. Given the support Intel gave this press release, I’m sure we’ll hear as soon as they make their next big advancement.