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Quantum Computing Race Has a New Winner with Google's Bristlecone

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted March 7, 2018


Google has jumped into the race to utilize Quantum computing technology, announcing on March 5 that it has developed a 72-qubit quantum processor dubbed Bristlecone.

A qubit is a quantum bit and is the fundamental unit of processing power that is used to help define the power of a quantum computing system. In May 2017, IBM announced that its Q system had 5 qubits of power, with a plan to scale up to 50 qubits in several years. Google has now already surpassed that milestone with Bristlecone.

"The purpose of this gate-based superconducting system is to provide a testbed for research into system error rates and scalability of our qubit technology, as well as applications in quantum simulation, optimization, and machine learning.," Julian Kelly, Research Scientist at Google's Quantum AI Lab, wrote in a blog post.

A quantum system operates in a very different manner than a traditional silicon-based server. A quantum computer makes use of quantum states of matter in order to process information.

Quantum Computing Still in a State of Flux

The state of quantum computing is still in somewhat of a flux, given its nascent state. Back in August 2017, the IEEE Standards Association announced the IEEE P7130 project in an effort to define Quantum Computing definitions and standards.

Intel is also moving into the Quantum space. On Jan. 8 Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced that Intel has fabricated a 49-qubit superconducting test chip.

Getting to the 72-qubit milestone is no trivial exercise for Google or anyone else, and it has required a host of new technologies and software in order to achieve.

"Operating a device such as Bristlecone at low system error requires harmony between a full stack of technology ranging from software and control electronics to the processor itself," Kelly wrote. "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."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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