The main aim of Quantum computers is to carry out tasks in just a few minutes where today’s best conventional computers take thousands of years. But in almost every snap of the devices, there’s a mass of wires in the background connected to equipment that controls the quantum computer. Intel on Monday announced a chip that it hopes will change that.
The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker announced a chip called “Horse Ridge” that is designed to take all the work being done by the wires and shrink it down to chip and electronics about the size of a teacup saucer.
Quantum computers remain years away from everyday use but have drawn the interest of major technology companies. In October, researchers at Alphabet’s Google said they had created a machine that can outpace conventional computers. Other major technology firms such as International Business Machines and Microsoft are also pursuing the technology.
Intel has two quantum efforts, each examining a different way of building the core of a quantum computer. That central part of a quantum machine uses “qubits.”
In many quantum computers, the qubits must be kept in very cold like refrigerators, nearly the temperatures where atoms stop moving. It is very difficult to connect wires to the qubits to send and receive information and most of the wires and additional electronics have to sit outside the special refrigerator.
Intel said its chip for one of the coldest spots in the US state of Oregon, where many of its factories are located. And it is designed to be able to sit inside the quantum refrigerator. The company hopes the chip will make quantum computers more practical to produce in the future.
Jim Clarke, Intel’s director of quantum hardware said, “Intel recognized that quantum controls were an essential piece of the puzzle we needed to solve in order to develop a large-scale commercial quantum system”.