Quantum computing technology seems to hold enormous potential. This technology, which is still in infancy at present, has inspired Google to start building its own chips for quantum computing. Instead of starting right from the scratch, Google would be collaborating with the quantum-computing group of UC Santa Barbara. This group has recently built a five-qubit, superconducting array, which has the potential to upgrade to bigger commercial systems.
A D-Wave Quantum-Computing Device’s CPU
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What may have inspired Google to think seriously about Quantum Computing?
To know the answer to this question, you need to get a basic understanding of how this technology works, and how quantum computers differ from the conventional ones. Traditional computers do calculations in binary (using 0s and 1s), whereas quantum computers employ the properties of quantum particles. In the core of a quantum computer, the qubits are put in the state of “superposition”, in which the value of the qubits is neither 1 nor 0, but both simultaneously. When a calculation is to be solved, the quantum state ends, and the qubits take up a value of 1 or 0. When the quantum states and the superposition are set up correctly, a quantum computer gives the same answer as a traditional computer.
The difference here is that once the problem is set, a quantum computer reaches the final answer almost immediately since the qubits “collapse” to the right answer, instead of performing a series of calculations that are done in a normal computer. This approach lets them carry out certain calculations far more quickly than traditional computers.
At present, this computing technology is facing the accuracy issue, which a team of the University of New South Wales is trying to solve. However, this new technology is set to create a revolution in the world of computing. Perhaps, the striking speed offered by this technology has motivated Google to create its own chips.
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Google’s Efforts in this Direction:
Google is researching about the various ways in which quantum computing technology can be applied, from about May 2013. During that time, it bought a quantum-annealing computer of D-Wave, with NASA. Martinis of UC Santa Barbara, along with his whole research team, is joining the Quantum AI laboratory of Google. Hartmut Neven of Google, who runs the laboratory, has said about Martinis that he is “the world’s authority on superconductivity qubits.” Google will probably inherit the latest work accomplished by Martinis and his team, to proceed towards building a computer with quantum AI. The team’s latest work features a five-qubit array.
The most significant achievement of their latest work is reliability. Owing to their very nature, hardware working at the quantum level is prone to errors and is unreliable. This leads to erroneous, untrustworthy results, and you need to perform a calculation numerous times to ensure that the result you have is correct. The five-qubit array with superconducting property, designed by Martinis and team, has a reliability of more than 99%, which is certainly a notable achievement. However, the team says that to make quantum-computing systems feasible commercially, the error rate needs to be reduced down to 1 in 1000. Google, together with Martinis and his team, is working to fix the errors in the technology, so that it can come up with quantum computers that are better than the conventional ones in many ways.
In the future, traditional computers might not be able to handle all calculations and data needed by robots, self-driving vehicles and other machines with advanced artificial intelligence. At that time, the world may need highly speedy and accurate machines like quantum computers. Google appears to be preparing to serve the world with its quantum computers at that time.