Intel makes mysterious steps in quantum computing

Intel has shipped a mysterious quantum computing device to the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), in an exciting development as part of the company’s bid for quantum supremacy.

According to the ANL, Intel’s contribution will fit into a larger quantum computing test being run at the lab.

“The machine will be the first major component installed in the Argonne Quantum Foundry, which will serve as a factory to create and test new quantum materials and devices,” says ANL’s Leah Hesla. “It should be finished this year.”

Making quantum computing a reality

ANL’s Q-NEXT scientists will use Intel’s quantum technology to run algorithms on its testbed, rather than a simulated environment, which helps both ANL and Intel assess where its quantum capabilities stand .

“It’s going to take a lot of people working together to make quantum computing a reality. We need to leverage everyone’s expertise,” said Intel’s Jeanette Roberts.
“It’s kind of a team sport. It’s a good area for collaboration in a pre-competitive space.”

Intel and ANL have been pretty vague about exactly how their computing power will be used, which is understandable given the embryonic nature of space itself. Intel has so far manufactured samples of its 22nm quantum chips, which it calls Horse Ridge I and II.

Quantum as an escape

It’s no secret that Intel, after years of dominating the semiconductor and chip industry, is in some trouble.

TSMC and other manufacturing rivals have far exceeded its technological prowess, helping Apple develop its superior A- and M-series chips for the iPhone and Mac.

After recruiting a new CEO and planning tens of billions of dollars in investments, Intel somehow has a plan to get out of the predicament it finds itself in.

Quantum computing – which goes beyond binary ones and zeros, allowing for states in between – could be a good way to do this.

While Amazon, Google, IBM and many others are also working on quantum chips and technology, they remain almost completely nascent and untested, which means Intel could, if it plays its cards right, have a ahead of its rivals.

Sherry J. Basler