Computer chips

IBM shows new quantum computing chip, targeting 2033 for large systems


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IBM shows new quantum computing chip, targeting 2033 for large systems

IBM. International Business Machines’ (IBM) Quantum System Two computer containing three "Heron" processors is seen in this undated handout photo

Courtesy of International Business Machines/Handout via Reuters

IBM shows a new way of connecting chips and machines for quantum computing, which when combined with error-correcting code could produce effective quantum machines by 2033

International Business Machines on Monday, December 4, showed a new quantum computing chip and machine that it hopes will serve as the building blocks of much larger systems a decade from now.

Researchers around the world are trying to perfect quantum computing, which relies on quantum mechanics to reach computing speeds far faster than classical silicon-based computers. The challenge has been to create quantum computers that are reliable enough in the real world to consistently beat conventional computers.

Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google, and China’s Baidu, along with startups and nation states, are all racing to develop quantum machines.

As quantum researchers have made the machines big enough to outpace classical computers, they have struggled with data errors. On Monday, IBM showed what it says is a new way of connecting chips together inside machines and then connecting machines together which, when combined with a new error-correction code, could produce compelling quantum machines by 2033.

The first machine to use them is called Quantum System Two, which uses three “Heron” chips. Dario Gil, IBM’s senior vice president and director of research, said that progress will appear fairly steady until 2029, when the full effect of the error-correction technologies come into play.

After that, the machines should see a sharp uptick in capabilities, similar to how AI systems that developed slowly for the past 15 years became vastly more sophisticated over the past year.

“You’re going to have to tie them together,” Gil said of IBM’s newest chips. “You’re going to have to do many of these things together to be practical about it. Because if not, it’s just a paper exercise.”

IBM is not the only quantum player targeting machines within the next few years. Startup PsiQuantum, which is working with GlobalFoundries to make its chips, told Reuters earlier this year it plans to have a commercial machine within six years. –

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