Intel develops control chip to simplify quantum computing

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Intel has developed a new cryogenic quantum chip, ‘Horse Ridge’, which should make it more commercially viable to work with quantum computing. The system-on-a-chip should accelerate the development of quantum technology by Intel. Horse Ridge allows developers to control qubits from the chip itself. These are the quantum particles that make quantum computing possible.

The chip was developed in collaboration with QuTech, which in turn is a joint venture between TU Delft and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). Intel uses its own existing 22 nm process for the manufacturing process.

Intel wants to improve qubit control

Qubits can be both a 1 and a 0 at the same time, allowing calculations to be performed much faster. However, it remains difficult to control many qubits at the same time.

Intel, therefore, sees it as an important task to improve the control of qubits. Until now, experiments with quantum computing have mainly taken place in laboratory conditions, writes the company. But the custom chips used for these experiments often consist of networks of different control chips for individual qubits that have to be connected to each other with many cables.

Horse Ridge should significantly simplify this construction. Cables would no longer be needed to drive individual qubits, which “will speed up the time it takes to set everything up significantly”. In addition, Horse Ridge is kept very cold, which should facilitate the cooling of quantum systems.

Horse Ridge should also make it possible to quickly scale up and add extra qubits to an existing quantum computer.

Feasibility, not supremacy

Intel wants to put “quantum feasibility” as a first priority. This means that the company focuses on ways to make quantum computing commercially practical.

Quantum feasibility contrasts with ‘quantum supremacy’, which is what Google was committed to this year. In quantum supremacy, it is important to prove that a system can do better than a non-quantum system. In the case of quantum practicability, the benchmark is whether a system can be used in practical situations at all.