China claims it’s quantum computer is 100 trillion times faster than any supercomputer

Topline

Chinese scientists claim to have built a quantum computer that is 100 trillion times faster than the world’s most advanced supercomputer. China claims that its quantum computer is 10 billion times faster than Google’s Sycamore, which has 54 bits of quantum computational power.

China is competing with major US tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and IBM for a lead in the technology.
China is competing with major US tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and IBM for a lead in the technology.
Key Facts
  1. 1

    According to research published in the Science magazine, China’s quantum computer prototype can detect up to 76 photons through Gaussian boson sampling. This is a standard simulation algorithm, making China’s prototype exponentially faster than other supercomputers.

  2. 2

    A direct comparison is not really possible as Google and China did not run the same calculations on their system.

  3. 3

    The medium of computation is the main difference between China and Google’s quantum technology. Google uses supercooled superconductive material for its solution, whereas the University of Science and Technology of China used photons as its medium.

  4. 4

    Christian Weedbrook, Chief Executive at Xanadu, a quantum computing startup in Canada, pointed out that China’s phototonic circuit was not programmable, whereas Google’s Sycamore was. Hence, Chinese quantum tech can’t be used to solve practical problems at the moment.

Details

Quantum computing, though in its infancy at the moment, has been viewed as the key to significantly improve the processing speed and the power of computers. China is competing with major US tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and IBM for a lead in the technology.

Google had declared Quantum Supremacy with Sycamore in October 2019 by running a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken other supercomputers 10,000 years to compute. Google’s 54-qubit processor, Sycamore, is comprised of fast, high-fidelity quantum logic gates to perform the benchmark testing.

Researchers at IBM claimed that its classical supercomputers could, in principle, already run existing algorithms to do the same calculations in 2.5 days. IBM quantum computing team is developing a 1,121 qubit device, called IBM Quantum Condor, targeted for the end of 2023.

As China announces its latest breakthrough in quantum computing, Toshiba also announced to offer quantum computing cryptographic services by 2025. Japan-based Toshiba forecasts the global market for quantum encryption services will increase to ¥2 trillion (approx. $19 billion) in fiscal 2035 from the current level, and it hopes to acquire a 25% share of the market.

Building a quantum computer is a race between humans and nature, not between countries.
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Chao-Yang Lu
Physics Professor, University of Science and Technology of China
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