Quantum Supremacy is the term used to describe such computing power of a quantum computer that surpasses even the best classical supercomputers’ calculating capabilities – in at least some types of equations. At the end of last year (2017) Google presented a 49 superconducting-qubit computer which was aimed to demonstrate quantum supremacy. This year in January Intel announced that they are currently developing better quantum hardware, while a few days ago on Monday Google researcher Julian Kelly unveiled Google’s Bristlecone chip at the annual American Physical Society meeting in Los Angeles, a 72-qubit quantum processor. The newest brainchild of Google’s Quantum AI lab hopes to do what their 49-qubit chip failed to do, show the world that quantum processors are superior. The chip and its predecessors are mainly planned to be used for workloads, such as optimization, simulation and machine learning.
Google plans to make quantum computers which will solve real-world problems, which are present today and could be utilized right away. The Quantum AI lab has claimed that they have developed such tools to measure the speed of quantum processors and compare the results to the benchmarks ran on classical computers. Qubits – unlike traditional computer bits, which can either hold 0 or 1 – are capable of holding much more information, in fact any number between 0 and 1.
Google has created these chips by using superconducting materials and circuits, on top of that design team adopted a gate-based architecture. The other two main challenges for the researchers were the issues of creating a sealed environment and working out a solution to predictably measure of the value of the qubits in order to decrease the error rate of the chip. Bristlecone would solve the two main issues with previous quantum devices, which were the relatively high error rates measured in calculation and the issue of measuring the computational power of these chips.
Google plans to make this chip as a proof of concept for large and big-scale future quantum computers which are planned to be designed and released in the coming years.