Google has said it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research, saying an experimental quantum processor has completed a calculation in just a few minutes that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years. Using the company’s state-of-the-art quantum computer, called Sycamore, Google has claimed “quantum supremacy”
The quantum computer completed the complex computation in 200 seconds. That same calculation would take even the most powerful supercomputers approximately 10,000 years to finish, the team of researchers, led by John Martinis, an experimental physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote in their study published Wednesday (Oct. 23) in the journal Nature. Quantum computing is a revolution in the field of technology and science. It is a nascent and somewhat bewildering technology for vastly sped-up information processing. Quantum computers might one day revolutionize tasks that would take existing computers years, including the hunt for new drugs and optimizing city and transportation planning.
Some researchers at IBM contest the “supremacy” claim, saying that a traditional supercomputer could solve the problem in 2.5 days, not 10,000 years. Still, 200 seconds is a lot quicker than 2.5 days. If the quantum computer isn’t supreme, it’s still extremely impressive because it’s so small and so efficient. “They got one little chip in the quantum computer and the supercomputer is covering a basketball court,” Preskill says.