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IBM Research has built its most powerful quantum chips yet, and is putting them up for use by researchers via the cloud.
The most impressive of its new chips is a prototype that uses 17 of the quantum equivalent of digital bits known as qubits. That’s up from five last year, and more than the nine that were featured in a device recently tested by Google. Like some of Google’s other latest quantum chips, IBM is starting to lay out qubits in orientations where they sit side by side. In the past it’s been hard to do that and ensure that the hardware still works, but the fact that it’s now achievable suggests that scaling up the devices even further will be plausible in the future.
The second of the new chips, pictured above, features 16 qubits, which makes it less powerful than the larger chip. But this device is robust enough that IBM is using it to upgrade its online service, which allows any researcher to test algorithms on quantum chips. The previous version of the service, which was part of the first-ever head-to-head quantum computer race, used the firm’s five-qubit chip. Meanwhile, the 17-qubit device will be opened up to just a handful of specific researchers to test.
MIT Technology Review:
IBM Nudges Ahead in the Race for Quantum Supremacy, Jamie Condliffe