49 qubit test chip unveiled by Intel at CES

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Intel has shown a 49 qubit superconducting quantum test chip at CES. The chip, called Tangle Lake is named after a chain of lakes in Alaska and said to represent a ‘nod’ to the cold temperatures and entangled states that qubits require to function.

The test chip is said to be another step on the road to Intel’s goal of developing of a complete quantum computing system. The 49 qubit test chip will allow researchers to assess and improve error correction techniques and to simulate computational problems.

“In the quest to deliver a commercially viable quantum computing system, it’s anyone’s game,” said Mike Mayberry, 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 1million or more qubits to achieve commercial relevance.”

The need to scale to greater numbers of working qubits is why Intel is not only researching superconducting qubits, but also spin qubits in silicon. Spin qubits, Intel says, could have a scaling advantage because they are much smaller than superconducting qubits. Spin qubits are said to resemble a single electron transistor and could be made using comparable processes. In fact, Intel has already invented a spin qubit fabrication flow on its 300mm process technology.