China Claims To Have World’s Most Powerful Quantum Computer, Tops Google

The team claims that their quantum computer's performance exceeds that of previous record holder, Google.
Derya Ozdemir

A group of researchers in China has developed what they believe to be the world's most powerful quantum computer, marking the latest milestone in a series of fascinating quantum computing advancements, New Scientist reports. According to a preprint uploaded to arXiv, the quantum computer was able to solve a problem with 56 of its 66 qubits (the quantum equivalent of bits in a conventional computer); breaking the previous record by Google.

Back in 2019, Google announced that its 54-qubit Sycamore processor was the first to achieve quantum supremacy, which is the point at which quantum computers can solve problems that conventional computers can't, Interesting Engineering previously reported. Sycamore completed a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken 10,000 years on the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

Outperforming Google, the Chinese team led by Jian-Wei Pan from the University of Science and Technology of China demonstrated the capabilities of their quantum processor. Called Zuchongzhi, the 2D programmable computer can manipulate up to 66 qubits at the same time. This means it can encode quantum information (the quantum state of a single electron) across 66 quantum bits.

The researchers report Zuchongzhi has solved a problem in just over an hour that would have taken the world’s most powerful classical supercomputer eight years to solve. And, in the future, it may be capable of even higher performance.

"We estimate that the sampling task finished by Zuchongzhi in about 1.2 hours [or 70 minutes] will take the most powerful supercomputer at least eight years," the researchers wrote in the paper. "The computational cost of the classical simulation of this task is estimated to be 2-3 orders of magnitude higher than the previous work on 53-qubit Sycamore processor."

According to the team, the problem the computer was solving was around 100 times tougher than the one solved by Google’s Sycamore.

"Our work establishes an unambiguous quantum computational advantage that is infeasible for classical computation in a reasonable amount of time. The high-precision and programmable quantum computing platform opens a new door to explore novel many-body phenomena and implement complex quantum algorithms."

The article has yet to be peer-reviewed, but it still offers a glimpse into a future in which quantum computers' capabilities are unleashed and it does fuel the feeling of quantum computing is about to change everything.. 

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