Intel has hit a milestone in quantum computing with the delivery of a new 17-qubit chip to a partner in the quantum computing field called QuTech. The chip isn’t notable for being a big breakthrough in quantum computing, the big deal here is that this chip is a step towards production quantum computers that are ordered by an end user and then delivered to spec.
Most quantum computing chips out there today are stuck inside physics labs. That seems an odd thing to celebrate, but it’s a big deal in real-world systems and a step closer to the day when we can all go online and buy quantum chips for our own computers. The chip itself isn’t special compared to other quantum chips out there.
It is said to have no new features and capabilities that other quantum chips out there can’t handle. However, when you are able to deliver a quantum computer chip like this to a partner it’s a big deal considering that much of the field is theoretical at this time. The partnership between Intel and QuTech is one where Intel builds the chips and then QuTech tests them.
Basically, Intel is told what QuTech needs to complete its next task or when there is an issue with the current design, then Intel tweaks the design and produces a new chip for testing and the process repeats itself. TechCrunch reports that the building of the chips by Intel and the testing by QuTech has significantly improved reliability and performance over the last two years. Quantum computers in use today have to be cooled to the millikelvin level, but that can be done in an enclosure about the size of an oil drum.