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John O | October 2017

Intel creates 17-qubit superconducting test chip for quantum computing


Intel recently announced that it has a delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip for quantum computing to its research partner in the Netherlands, QuTech, to demonstrate the progress that Intel is making towards a working quantum computing system.

 


Intel’s director of quantum hardware, Jim Clarke, holds the new 17-qubit superconducting test chip.
(Intel Corporation)

 

The chip was fabricated by Intel and its design is optimized for improved yield and performance, according to a press release from the company, and is another step forward in the quest to build quantum machines with computing power that dwarfs what current computers can handle.

 

In order to make quantum computing possible, Intel researchers needed to find a way of packaging qubits to maintain the fragile building blocks. Qubits lose data due to unintended noise and operate at 20 millikelvin (250 times colder than deep space, according to Intel).

 

“This extreme operating environment makes the packaging of qubits key to their performance and function,” the announcement read. “Intel’s Components Research Group (CR) in Oregon and Assembly Test and Technology Development (ATTD) teams in Arizona are pushing the limits of chip design and packaging technology to address quantum computing’s unique challenges.”

 

The new chip, which is about the size of a quarter, includes new architecture that improves the reliability and thermal performance and reduces the radio frequency (RF) interference between qubits; has a scalable interconnect scheme that allows for 10-100 times more signals in and out of the chip; and has advanced processes, materials, and designs that can be scaled for quantum integrated circuits.

 

“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,” said Dr. Michael Mayberry, corporate vice president and managing director of Intel Labs.

 

“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.”

 

Professor Leo DiCarlo of QuTech said, “With this test chip, we’ll focus on connecting, controlling and measuring multiple, entangled qubits towards an error correction scheme and a logical qubit. This work will allow us to uncover new insights in quantum computing that will shape the next stage of development.”

 

Intel’s research into quantum computing continues. The company is working not only on qubits into the superconducting test chip but also spin qubits in silicon that are closer to conventional transistors and have the potential to be manufactured in more traditional processes.

 

Watch the video below to learn more about the new chip:

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