Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

IBM: “On the Cusp of Quantum Computing”

February 28th, 2012 / in big science, research horizons, Research News / by Erwin Gianchandani

From Computerworld:

A picture of the Silicon chip housing a total of three qubits. The chip is back-mounted on a PC board and connects to I/O coaxial lines via wire bonds (scale: 8mm x 4mm). A larger assembly of such qubits and resonators is envisioned for a scalable architecture [image courtesy Computerworld].Scientists at IBM Research today said they have achieved a major advance in quantum computing that will allow engineers to begin work on creating a full-scale quantum computer.


The breakthrough allowed scientists to reduce data error rates in elementary computations while maintaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits of data, known as qubits.


The creation of a quantum computer would mean data processing power would be exponentially increased over what is possible with today’s conventional CPUs, according to Mark Ketchen, the manager of physics of information at the IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY.


A qubit, like today’s conventional bit, can have two possible values: a 0 or a 1. The difference is that a bit must be a 0 or 1, and a qubit can be a 0, 1, or a superposition of both.


“Suppose you take 2 qubits. You can be in 00, 01, 10, and 11 at the same time. For 3 qubits you can be in 8 states at the same time (000, 001, 111, etc.). For each qubit you double the number of states you can be in at the same time. This is part of the reason why a quantum computer could be much more powerful,” Ketchen said.


While a quantum computer is still a long way from being a reality – probably 10 to 15 years — advances in reducing error rates and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in qubits opens the door to experimentation with new microfabrication techniques, IBM said.


“We’re finally to the point where devices are getting good enough where data checking and error correcting is possible. As you cross this threshold, there’s a lot of excitement growing,” Ketchen said.


IBM’s team presented their quantum computing advances at the annual American Physical Society meeting today.


Unlike today’s silicon-based semiconductors, IBM is employing superconducting qubits that use established microfabrication techniques developed for silicon technology but produced on a sapphire chip. That offers the potential to one day scale up to the manufacture of thousands or millions of qubits.

To learn more, check out the Computerworld article and the IBM press materials.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

IBM: “On the Cusp of Quantum Computing”

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