Xiaogang Qiang/University of Bristol
Bouncing Photons

China Claims Quantum Supremacy

byVictor Tangermann
12. 3. 20
Xiaogang Qiang/University of Bristol

Chinese researchers say they've blown Google's quantum system out of the water.

Quantum Supremacy 2.0

A team of researchers from University of Science and Technology of China have just claimed quantum supremacy, Wired reports — meaning their quantum computer completed a task that would take a conventional computer tens of thousands of years.

Google became the first to claim quantum supremacy in October 2019 with its Sycamore quantum computer completing a random number generation-related calculation in just 200 seconds — a task that would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years, according to the tech giant.

Crunching Numbers Using Light

Now, as detailed in its paper published in the journal Science, the Chinese team says its system, called Jiuzhang, completed a task in three minutes that would’ve taken a powerful supercomputer two billion years, according to Wired.

But there are some striking differences between the two quantum systems. Google’s Sycamore processor uses quantum circuits that include superconducting metals that need to be cryogenically supercooled to extremely low temperatures, fractions of a degree above absolute zero.

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Limited Flexibility

The Chinese team’s processor instead manipulates individual photons and doesn’t require supercooling. That introduces limitations: its task was baked into its very circuitry, meaning that it was designed from the ground up to make this particular calculation.

Quantum computing is still very much in its infancy — engineers have yet to even devise a practical use. They are also infamously unstable and fragile.

Still, the fact that they’re starting to grapple with problems beyond the capabilities of conventional computers — and with radically different architectures — is promising.

READ MORE: China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy [Wired]

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More on quantum supremacy: Here’s Why Quantum Supremacy Matters


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