Intel producing full silicon wafers of quantum computing chips

26-qubit quantum chips
Mass production of quantum compute devices could fundamentally change how we look at traditional silicon. Although not necessarily a replacement for conventional hardware, quantum technologies allow for many difficult problems to be solved that would otherwise be impossible to comprehend.

Last year, Intel was able to take a few steps forward towards the commercialization of quantum computing. A 17-qubit superconducting chip was built followed by CEO Brian Krzanich showing off a test chip at CES 2018 with 49 qubits.

Unlike previous quantum efforts at Intel, this latest batch of wafers are focusing on spin qubits instead of superconducting qubits. This secondary technology is still a few years behind superconducting quantum efforts but could turn out to be more easily scalable.

Moving forward, Intel now has the capability to produce up to five silicon wafers every week containing up to 26-qubit quantum chips. This achievement means that Intel has greatly increased the number of quantum devices in existence and could be looking to increase the number of qubits steadily in the coming years.

An interview with Intel’s director of quantum hardware Jim Clarke reveals that the current technology being used in small scale production could eventually scale to beyond 1000 qubits. Limitations due to expansion and shrinking as a result of temperature fluctuations prevent engineers from simply expanding the number of qubits on a chip.

Currently, each wafer is made up of quantum dots that must be carefully sliced such that each chip ends up with an appropriate number of qubits. Due to imperfections and physical limitations, finished chips can end up with 3, 7, 11, or 26 qubits.

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