China challenges Google’s ‘quantum supremacy’ by developing supercomputers capable of solving tasks hundreds of times more difficult


14 July 2021 12:05 GMT

Xu Chongzhi was able to solve a task in more than an hour that would take about 8 years of work with the most advanced non-quantum supercomputers.

quantum supercomputer Xue ChongzhiDeveloped by engineers at the China University of Science and Technology, it is the most powerful in the world, according to its creators.

The device was able to solve a task in just one hour that would take about 8 years of work from the most advanced non-quantum supercomputers.

“I’m very excited about it. What it has done is demonstrate exactly what we always thought we knew, but didn’t test experimentally: You can always beat a classic machine by adding a few more qubits.” Huh.” commented Physicist Peter Knight, of The New Scientist, is not involved in the design.

The Xue Chongzhi has a two-dimensional processor and 66 functional qubits – or quantum bits – that can operate simultaneously. It is capable of carrying out sampling tasks with a system size of up to 56 qubits and 20 cycles. According to Chinese engineers, it is “2 or 3 orders of magnitude” – that is, hundreds or thousands of times – more powerful than the Sycamore, the quantum supercomputer with which Google announced it in October 2019. “Quantum Supremacy”.

The superiority of the Chinese device would be explained not only by the greater number of qubits, but also because to manage them, Zu Chongzhi uses optical circuits to control and read chips.

China declared the first milestone towards "quantum supremacy"What is it and what is it for

Like the Sycamore, the Zu Chongzhi can solve a variety of tasks and is fully programmable. In that it is completely different from another Chinese quantum supercomputer, jiuzhang, which is 10 billion times faster than Google’s, but performs only one task: finding a solution to the boson sampling problem. Furthermore, Xue Chongzhi demonstrates the scalability of the technology.

“We observed that the performance of the whole system behaves as predicted when the system size increases from small to large, which confirms our high-fidelity quantum operations and low correlated errors in the Xu Chongzhi processor. An architecture in quantum processors is scalable that supports surface code error correction, which could serve as a test bed for fault-tolerant quantum computing,” its developers indicate in a not-yet-peer-reviewed article. this The arXiv repository is accessible.

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