Why 100 Qubits are Better than 1,000 Qubits?
Conventional computers, from smartphones to the most powerful supercomputers, perform calculations by storing information in bits that can be 0 or 1.
Quantum computers, on the other hand, are based on a phenomenon called superposition, in which particles can be in different states at the same time due to the strange laws of quantum mechanics. A qubit can exist in more than one state at a time and, by linking the qubits together and entangling their destinations, all states can exist simultaneously when a calculation is performed.
As the number of qubits increases, the number of states that can be computed simultaneously increases and the time required for a calculation is greatly reduced. However, for a quantum computer to compete with today’s best classical computers, scientists still need a quantum processor with millions of qubits.
Quantum bits are notoriously prone to errors, a problem caused by the fact that they have to be kept at temperatures close to absolute zero, i.e. minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 273.15 degrees Celsius). While classical computers fail at a rate of one bit in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one trillion trillion), Quantum Chip computers have a failure rate closer to one bit in 1,000,000.
That’s why IBM has high hopes for the Heron chip, which has a failure rate five times lower than that of the giant Condor chip. But that doesn’t mean that IBM isn’t enthusiastic about Condor’s performance.” We’re going to have to be innovative to develop ways to manufacture all the quantum bits on this chip and overcome the mechanical challenges associated with cooling such a large chip.” Matthias Steffen, a member of IBM’s quantum processor technology group, said in an email to Live Science.
Steffen added that the researchers have demonstrated that a single dilution cooler can cool a large chip and have perfected the configuration for a mile (1.6 kilometers) of coaxial cable. Much of the research is already looking at how Heron will be built and integrated into IBM’s next generation of quantum computers, “System 2”.
System 2, already in operation in New York, is the first Quantum Chip computer with three Heron processors and a modular architecture that allows quantum bits to be added as needed as if they were Lego blocks. To build a quantum-domain future, Steffen said, the hardware needs to be updated to include new error-correction codes that can increase the number of quantum bits without sacrificing error-correction efficiency.
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