China Delivers its First Practical Quantum Computer System To A Customer
The Chinese Science Ministry announced on Monday that the first quantum computer in the country was delivered to an unidentified user a year earlier.
Origin Quantum Computing Technology built the 24-qubit Wuyan superconducting system. The company was founded in 2017 by Guo Guoping, one of China’s top quantum physicists. In the quantum world, a qubit performs similar functions to bits in the digital world.
Following Canada and the United States in delivering a complete quantum computing system to a client, China became the third nation to do so.
Some skeptics have questioned the timing.
Quantum technology is a top priority in China for national security. If it were essential, then I doubt that Chinese authorities would disclose this information in such a transparent manner.
Zhong, a TechNewsWorld reporter, said that the fact that the launch was delayed by a year shows that the Chinese government has realized that the technology is not critical to national security and is using it to promote China as a technological leader in a period when the country is trying to open its economy to the world.
Hodan Omaar, the senior AI policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation, Washington, D.C., a think-tank that studies the intersection of technology, data, and public policies, maintains the announcement shows China has made a significant step in its quantum developments.
Omaar, a TechNewsWorld contributor, said: “To overcome technical challenges in the path towards large-scale quantum computer will depend on being able to scale up the number of qubits within quantum systems. This is similar to how modern classical computers depended upon the growth of transistors on superconducting chip technology.”
She added, “Investing in quantum computing applications near term helps to bolster the development and use cases for the technology over the longer term, thus helping to improve the competitiveness.”
Skip Sanzeri is the co-founder and CEO of QuSecure in San Mateo. The company makes quantum-safe security products. He called the announcement “formidable” because China claims to have a fully functional quantum computer, even though the qubit count may be low.
Sanzeri, speaking to TechNewsWorld, said that noise reduction and error correction are essential factors that ensure that quantum computers can be relied upon for processing data and providing applications. By announcing they’ve been able to get to this stage, it shows that China has made progress toward larger quantum computers.
Bucking the Trend
Heather West, senior research analyst for IDC, a global market research firm, said that the Wuyan system is comparable to other systems on the market.
West told TechNewsWorld that the fact that they have sold a 24-qubit system is not that different from other places around the globe.
Wuyan, a stand-alone system, is, bucking current market trends.
Most quantum computers are accessed today through the cloud, explained Doug Finke. Doug Finke is an analyst at Global Quantum Intelligence, a market intelligence company.
Finke, a TechNewsWorld reporter, said that “this Wuyan computer was delivered to a client in an on-premises situation.” “On-premise comes with several disadvantages. You need to be concerned about maintenance. You need to be concerned about spare parts. “You have to be concerned about calibration.”
He continued: “Quantum computing innovations are so rapid that they become outdated in two years.” Only some people are interested in an on-premises quantum computer. “They’re more comfortable in the cloud.”
The Wuyan System was constructed using superconducting chips, one of the first technologies used for quantum computers. Other technologies have been investigated since its introduction. Other technologies have been explored, including photonics and trapped ions.
Sanzeri stated, “At the moment, nobody knows which technology will be the winner. Or if there will be a combination of technologies for effective quantum applications.”
He explained that superconducting was very difficult. “It requires near zero Kelvin refrigeration.”
He continued, “The electrons in superconducting computers are difficult to handle due to their short coherence time.” “That’s why they have to be cooled down so low.”
He added that other methods could manage longer coherence time and a quicker path to the goal of 1,000 corrected qubits.
West stated, “The most important question to me is which technology will be the winner in the race for a fault-tolerant quantum computing system.” West said that there might not be a single winner. It’s possible that there isn’t a single system that wins. “It might be that some systems are better at solving specific kinds of problems than others.”
Omaar countered that superconducting chip technology has several advantages over other technologies.
She said: “First, superconducting quantum bits are solid-state electronic circuits which are easier to manipulate because microwaves manipulate them.” Scientists can use commercial microwave equipment and devices in superconducting applications.
She continued: “Second because preparing superconducting devices is based on existing methods for fabricating semiconductors, high-quality devices can leverage advanced chip-making technology, which is beneficial for manufacturing and scaling.”
The arrival of a quantum computing system that can solve problems beyond the capabilities of silicon computers is still years away, despite developments such as China’s Wuyan System.
West stated that quantum computers would be the best solution for complex and intractable problems outside of the range of traditional computing technology. “Quantum computers are still years away from solving those problems.”
She continued, “We need at least one million qubits to get there.” It’s going to take a lot to scale and stabilize the qubits. Qubits are sensitive to external noise. The technology we use is prone to errors.
Richard Stiennon is the founder and chief analyst of IT-Harvest in Birmingham, Mich., an industry analyst firm specializing in cybersecurity.
There are many physical limitations on quantum computing, including the need for precision in length pathways (we’re talking microns) and resistance to force — even footsteps can interfere. “Supercooled chips only add to the complexity,” Stiennon said in TechNewsWorld.
He said: “I would put it on the same level as developing a usable energy source from nuclear fusion.” “Hundreds of billions and decades of effort to show even a hint of progress.”