March 6, 2018
LOS ANGELES, CA - Google's Quantum AI Lab has unveiled a new quantum computing processor, entitled Bristlecone, in the clearest statement yet of the tech giant's commitment to the future of computing.
At the 2018 annual meeting of the American Physical Society, Google presented their new 72-qubit processor as a "testbed for research into system error rates and scalability of qubit technology, as well as applications in quantum simulation, optimization, and machine learning." Their strategy, they outlined, "is to explore near-term applications using systems that are forward-compatible to a large-scale universal error-corrected quantum computer."
"If a quantum processor can be operated with low enough error, it would be able to outperform a classical supercomputer on a well-defined computer science problem, an achievement known as quantum supremacy. We chose a device of this size to be able to demonstrate quantum supremacy in the future, investigate first and second order error-correction using the surface code, and to facilitate quantum algorithm development on actual hardware."
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Quantum computing represents the intersection of computer science and quantum physics. Unlike today's computers, which continue to operate on true / false Boolean logic, quantum computing replaces Boolean logic with quantum law at the algorithmic level. For certain tasks, including optimization, sampling, search, simulation, or machine learning and AI, this promises dramatic speedups.
Using a benchmarking tool, Google's team demonstrated that quantum supremacy can be reached with 49 qubits - making Bristlecone well-suited to quantum applications. "We believe the experimental demonstration of a quantum processor outperforming a supercomputer would be a watershed moment for our field, and remains one of our key objectives. We are cautiously optimistic that quantum supremacy can be achieved with Bristlecone, and feel that learning to build and operate devices at this level of performance is an exciting challenge!"
While commercial and technical hurdles still need to be overcome, the potential for quantum computing to supercharge AI is vast. With Bristlecone, the race is on.
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