With all the tech giants pouring time and money into new and ambitious projects to be at the forefront of the modern technology, quantum computing is one lightsaber that can help one win the competition. There has been a race to build quantum hardware so that in the future, it can be turned into a more powerful and faster cloud computing service. Although the capabilities of the technology is highly debated but the efforts by the leading players to commercialize it has opened a new competitive space in the accelerating cloud market.
The latest developments in quantum computing come from Google and Alibaba Cloud, who announced new quantum processors this month.
At annual American Physical Society meeting in Los Angeles, Google launched its new quantum processor, called Bristlecone. The Bristlecone will provide testbed for research into qubit scalability, quantum simulation, system error rates, etc.
On the other hand, Alibaba Cloud partnered with Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to unveil the new superconducting quantum computing cloud.
- Google’s Bristlecone:
Bristlecone can handle quantum information of 72 qubits, the largest of its kind till date. IBM’s quantum processor is second to it which includes 50 qubits.
Qubits are the units used in quantum computing to encode information, the way classic computers encode information in bits. Bits are represented by ones and zeros, but qubits can be both at the same time. This makes quantum computers capable of manipulating combinations of states at once.
If a quantum computer operating at a low error rate, can outperform the classical supercomputer, it is called quantum supremacy. It is something Google aims to achieve with Bristlecone. Google claimed that Bristlecone provides low error rates for readout (1%), single-qubit gates (0.1%), as well as two-qubit gates (0.6%).
Google said that quantum supremacy can be achieved with 49 qubits, a circuit that includes the depth over 40, and a two-qubit error below 0.5%.
“We believe Bristlecone would then be a compelling proof-of-principle for building larger scale quantum computers. Operating a device such as Bristlecone at low system error requires harmony between a full stack of technology ranging from software and control electronics to the processor itself,” wrote Julian Kelly, Research Scientist, Quantum AI Lab, in a blog post.
- Alibaba’s new quantum processor:
Alibaba cloud launched the quantum computing cloud boosted by a power of 11 qubits, second to only quantum processor by IBM which offers 20 qubits of power. The new quantum processor by Alibaba Cloud can work at extremely low temperatures (-273 degree Celsius).
Alibaba Cloud has been working with CAS since July 2015 to build a cloud-based quantum cryptography method. The companies together established first quantum computing laboratory in Asia, and further participated in development of the world’s first photon quantum computer in May 2017.
The superconducting quantum computing cloud is now available to be accessed through Alibaba Cloud’s quantum computing cloud platform. Users can run and test the quantum codes and download the results.
“By introducing quantum computing services on cloud, we make it easier for the teams to experiment with quantum applications in a real environment to better understand the property and performance of the hardware, as well as leading the way in developing quantum tools and software globally. The user experience offered on cloud will without doubt help us further enhance our platform,” said Dr. Shi Yaoyun, Chief Quantum Technology Scientist at Alibaba Cloud.
A few days ago, Microsoft too upgraded its Quantum Development with support for macOS and Linux to make quantum computing accessible to more developers.