The delivery of this chip demonstrates the fast progress Intel and QuTech are making in researching and developing a working quantum computing system. It also underscores the importance of material science and semiconductor manufacturing in realizing the promise of quantum computing.
Quantum computing, in essence, is the ultimate in parallel computing, with the potential to tackle problems conventional computers can't handle. For example, quantum computers may simulate nature to advance research in chemistry, materials science and molecular modeling – like helping to create a new catalyst to sequester carbon dioxide, a room temperature superconductor, or discover new drugs.
However, despite much experimental progress and speculation, there are inherent challenges to building viable, large-scale quantum systems that produce accurate outputs. Making qubits (the building blocks of quantum computing) uniform and stable is one such obstacle.
Qubits are tremendously fragile, and any noise or unintended observation of them can cause data loss. This fragility requires them to operate at about 20 millikelvin – 250 times colder than deep space, and this extreme operating environment makes the packaging of qubits key to their performance and function. Intel's Components Research Group (CR) in Oregon and Assembly Test and Technology Development (ATTD) teams in Arizona are pushing the limits of chip design and packaging technology to address quantum computing's unique challenges.