Google unveils quantum computer breakthrough to solve complex problems in minutes

James Marshall
October 25, 2019

Considering Sycamore is a 54-cubit computer, it is (in theory) substantially faster than even the most powerful supercomputer on Earth.

However, technology is still way too fragile for commercialization, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

"At the same time we'll be making our quantum computers better". "But that can be done with a quantum computer the size of a small room".

However, ex-Bitcoin Core developer Peter Todd reassured the confused crypto crowd that Google was nowhere near breaking the top coin's cryptography. "The qubit in question can either equal 0 or 1 until someone actually measures it".

It was more to prove it could be done, rather than for a particular practical application. It followed weeks of controversy since a draft leaked over whether Google's claim of "quantum supremacy" was valid. Essentially, a quantum computer can calculate problems orders of magnitude faster than classical computers. IBM, for example, says that its own conservative worst-case estimate of completing Google's random number simulation on Summit is 2.5 days, and it would be performed with "far greater fidelity".

Google has not, it asserts, achieved the highly prized goal of quantum supremacy. The scientists claimed this process was hundreds of millions of times faster than any existing supercomputer. But he also said "much work is needed before quantum computers become a practical reality". Sycamore still generates errors and to correct them, the quantum computer would have to encode a single, more stable qubit (the "logical" qubit) in several less reliable qubits (the "physical" qubits) - this would enable the machine to maintain quantum states for longer times.

That supercomputer belongs to one of Google's quantum computing rivals, IBM.

This Feb. 27, 2018, photo shows a seven cubit quantum device is seen at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Conventional computers process information as a stream of bits, each of which can be either a zero or a one in...

Rumours had been circulating the massive tech firm had achieved the feat after a brief note appeared on a NASA website last month before it was quickly removed, but on Wednesday Google published its findings in the journal Nature. This would seem like a momentous occasion, but not everyone is taking Google's claims at face value. Google on its part, claims the Sycamore chip has been designed in a two-dimensional grid where each qubit is connected to four other qubits. Therefore, these computers would need to go through them one by one - finishing up around the year 12019. Even for simple molecules like caffeine, the number of quantum states in the molecule can be astoundingly large - so large that all the conventional computing memory and processing power that could ever be built couldn't model it.

Coincidentally or not, this marked the 11-year anniversary of a study appearing in the same journal where a team of USA and United Kingdom scientists achieved the first consistent storage of quantum data. Among the biggest is the fact that as more qubits are added, it becomes increasingly hard to maintain the conditions needed for reliable quantum computations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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