Only two months after delivery of a 17-qubit superconducting test chip, Intel has unveiled “Tangle Lake,” a 49-qubit superconducting quantum test chip. The chip is named after a chain of lakes in Alaska – an analogy to the extreme cold temperatures and the entangled state that quantum bits (or “qubits”) require to function.
Tangle Lake is an important milestone in developing a complete quantum computing system – from architecture to algorithms to control electronics. The 49-qubit test chip will allow researchers to better assess and improve error correction techniques and simulate computational problems.
According to Krzanich, the nascent field of quantum computing will solve problems that today might take our best supercomputers months or years to resolve, such as drug development, financial modeling and climate forecasting.
“In the quest to deliver a commercially viable quantum computing system, it’s anyone’s game,” said Mike Mayberry, corporate vice president and managing director of Intel Labs. “We expect it will be five to seven years before the industry gets to tackling engineering-scale problems, and it will likely require 1 million or more qubits to achieve commercial relevance.”
The need to scale to greater numbers of working qubits is why Intel, in addition to investing in superconducting qubits, is also researching another type called spin qubits in silicon. Spin qubits could have a scaling advantage because they are much smaller than superconducting qubits.
Spin qubits resemble a single electron transistor, which is similar in many ways to conventional transistors and potentially able to be manufactured with comparable processes. In fact, Intel has already invented a spin qubit fabrication flow on its 300mm process technology.