Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich revealed a 49-qubit quantum computing chip in the opening keynote at CES 2018 yesterday.
Dubbed as ‘Tangled Lake’, the chip according to Krzanich is a major breakthrough in quantum computing and is the next step to “quantum supremacy” for the company. He announced the successful design, fabrication, and delivery of this test chip, which is a one step ahead towards the company’s goal of developing a complete quantum computing system including architecture and algorithms to control electronics.
Krzanich mentioned that the term ‘Tangled Lake’, named after a chain of lakes in Alaska, is a nod to the extreme cold temperatures and entangled state required by qubits to function. He said that achieving the milestone of 49-qubit test chip is crucial as it will enable researchers to test and improve error correction techniques as well as simulate complex computation problems.
In his keynote, Krzanich also predicted that quantum computing will be capable to solve problems such as drug development, financial modeling and climate forecasting, which today for even the best supercomputers take months or years to resolve. Quantum computing, however, is still at a nascent stage and it is estimated that tackling engineering-scale problems will likely require 1 million or more qubits. Mike Mayberry, Corporate Vice President and Managing Director of Intel Labs said that it will take “five to seven years” before the industry begins to tackle such large-scale problems.
In order to meet the need of scaling to a greater number of qubits, Intel is also researching on spin qubits, which can provide quantum control of the electron and the nuclear spin of a single Silicon atom. Since spin qubits are much smaller compared to superconducting qubits, it has a scaling advantage. The company has already invented a way to fabricate spin qubits on its 300nm process technology.
In the keynote, Krzanich also showed off the company’s research into neuromorphic computing, a new way of computing inspired by the functioning of the brain. This new computing paradigm has the potential to enhance performance and power efficiency needed for the future of Artificial Intelligence. “This has been a major research effort by Intel and today we have a fully functioning neuromorphic research chip,” he said. “This incredible technology adds to the breadth of AI solutions that Intel is developing.”
Intel Labs has already developed a neuromorphic chip ‘Loihi’ for research that mimics the brain’s fundamental operations. These chips once developed for commercial use could be applied in environments requiring real-time data processing such as security camera, smart-city infrastructure as well as for real-time communication with autonomous vehicles. The chipmaker is planning to share the test chip with universities and research institutions in the first half of this year.
The company also announced its 8th-generation core processor and 4GB of second-gen high-bandwidth memory (HBM2) at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.