Intel showcases 1st cryogenic quantum computing chip

QuTech an advanced research center for quantum computing and quantum internet in collaboration with Intel Labs unveiled details about its first cryogenic quantum control chip

Intel Labs, in collaboration with QuTech which is an advanced research center for quantum computing and quantum internet, has unveiled details about its first cryogenic quantum control chip called "Horse Ridge."

The "Horse Ridge" chip addresses fundamental challenges in building a quantum system powerful enough to demonstrate quantum practicality: scalability, flexibility and fidelity, Intel said in a statement on Wednesday.

Today, quantum researchers work with just a small number of qubits, using smaller, custom-designed systems surrounded by complex control and interconnect mechanisms.

"Intel's Horse Ridge greatly minimizes this complexity. By systematically working to scale to thousands of qubits required for quantum practicality, we're continuing to make steady progress toward making commercially viable quantum computing a reality in our future," said Jim Clarke, director of quantum hardware, Intel Labs.

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Research paper in the ISSCC

The details were outlined in a research paper released at the "2020 International Solid-State Circuits Conference" (ISSCC).

The current bits in computers store information as either 1 or 0, thus limiting the potential to make sense when faced with gigantic volumes of data.

The computers of the future will not use classical bits but "qubits" which are not limited to binary and can have properties of 0 and 1 simultaneously, thus trying every possible number and sequence simultaneously to unlock vast amounts of data.

A quantum computer can solve complex problems that would otherwise take billions of years for today's computers to solve. This has massive implications for research in health care, energy, environmental systems, smart materials and more.

Intel's "Horse Ridge' greatly simplifies today's complex control electronics required to operate such a quantum system by using a highly integrated system-on-chip (SoC) for faster setup time, improved qubit performance and efficient scaling to larger qubit counts required for quantum computing to solve practical, real-world applications.

The integrated SoC design integrates four radio frequency (RF) channels into a single device.

Each channel is able to control up to 32 qubits leveraging "frequency multiplexing".

Leveraging these four channels, Horse Ridge can potentially control up to 128 qubits with a single device, substantially reducing the number of cables and rack instrumentations previously required.

Increases in qubit count trigger other issues like a decline in qubit fidelity and performance.

In developing 'Horse Ridge', Intel has optimized the multiplexing technology that enables the system to scale and reduce errors.

Horse Ridge can cover a wide frequency range, enabling control of both superconducting qubits (known as transmons) and spin qubits, said the company.

QuTech is a partnership between TU Delft and TNO (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research).