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Discrete and Process Automation

New 17-Qubit Superconducting Chip for Quantum Computing Launched

11 October 2017

Intel's 17-qubit quantum test chip. Source: IntelIntel's 17-qubit quantum test chip. Source: Intel

Intel announced the launch of a 17-qubit superconducting test chip for quantum computing to QuTech, Intel’s quantum research partner in the Netherlands. The new chip was fabricated by Intel.

Quantum computing is the ultimate in parallel computing with the potential to tackle problems conventional computers can’t handle. Quantum computers may simulate nature to advance research in chemistry, materials science and molecular modeling, like helping to create a new catalyst to sequester carbon dioxides or create a room temperature superconductor or discover new drugs.

Despite experimental progress and speculation, there are inherent challenges to building a viable, large-scale quantum system that produces accurate outputs. Creating qubits that are uniform and stable, which is hard to do.

Qubits are very fragile. Any noise or unintended observation of them can cause data loss. This fragility requires them to operate at about 20 millikelvin, 250 times colder than deep space. This operating environment makes the packaging of qubits key to their performance and function. Intel’s Components Research Group (CR) in Oregon and Assembly Test and Technology Development (ATTD) teams in Arizona are pushing limits of chip design and packaging technology to address quantum computing’s unique challenges.

The new 17-qubit test chip is about the size of a quarter and has a new architecture that allows improved reliability, thermal performance and reduced radio frequency (RF) interface between qubits. When compared to wire-bonded chips, this chip’s scalable interconnect scheme that lets 10 to 100 times more signals into and out of the chip. The new chip’s materials, processes and designs let Intel’s packaging to scale for quantum integrated circuits and are much larger than conventional silicon chips.

To contact the author of this article, email Siobhan.Treacy@ieeeglobalspec.com


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