Tuesday, January 31, 2023

IBM says quantum chip could beat standard chips in two years

International Business Machines (IBM.N) announced on Monday that it has developed a new quantum computing chip that, according to the company’s management, will allow quantum systems to begin outperforming classical computers in some tasks within the next two years.

The “Eagle” computing device, according to IBM, features 127 “qubits,” which can represent information in the quantum form. Qubits can be both a 1 and a 0 at the same time, unlike traditional computers, which use “bits” that must be either a 1 or a 0.

This could make quantum computers far quicker than their classical equivalents in the future, but qubits are extremely difficult to create and require massive cryogenic refrigerators to function properly. While Apple Inc.’s (AAPL.O) latest M1 Max chip has 57 billion transistors (roughly equivalent to bits), IBM claims that its new Eagle chip has more than 100 qubits.

When combined with other developments in the quantum computer’s cooling and control systems, IBM claims that new approaches learned while manufacturing the device, which is built at its facilities in New York state, would eventually create additional qubits.

At that point, the company says it will be close to what is called “quantum advantage,” the point at which quantum computers can beat classical computers.

Darío Gil, a senior vice president at IBM and head of his research division, said that does not mean quantum computers will overtake traditional ones all at once. Instead, what IBM envisions is a world where some parts of a computing application run on traditional chips and some parts run on quantum chips, depending on what works best for each task.

“We believe that we will be able to reach a demonstration of quantum advantage – something that can have practical value – within the next couple of years. That is our quest,” Gil said.