Intel announces major breakthroughs in quantum computing

Intel announces major breakthroughs in quantum computing

Not only did Intel unveil a big step towards quantum chips at CES 2018, but also a new neuromorphic computing research chip.

Two months after delivery of a 17-qubit superconducting test chip, Intel has now unveiled "Tangle Lake", a 49-qubit superconducting quantum test chip.

Krzanich also used the keynote to highlight how data is transforming the world around us and driving the next great wave of technology innovation, from autonomous driving to artificial intelligence (AI) to virtual reality (VR) and other forms of immersive media. Achieving a 49-qubit test chip is an important milestone because it will allow researchers to assess and improve error correction techniques and simulate computational problems.

IBM, another company investing in the field, is demonstrating a 50-qubit quantum computer at CES. The latest quantum superconducting Tangle Lake chip contains 49-qubits, only a few hundred thousand short of a commercially relevant chip, according to Intel Labs vice president Mike Mayberry. "We expect it will be five to seven years before the industry gets to tackling engineering-scale problems, and it will likely require 1-million or more qubits to achieve commercial relevance". The benefit of spin qubit chips is they should be much smaller than the superconducting chips. In fact, Intel has already invented a spin qubit fabrication flow on its 300mm process technology. Now it functionality is limited to simple object recognition, CEO Brian Krzanich said today.

Krzanich also detailed Intel Labs work on neuromorphic computing - a new area of hardware development which is inspired by how the brain works, and the work being done on the Loihi chip revealed late past year.

The company announced that Loihi, its first "neuromorphic" chip - created to mimic the way that a human brain learns and understands - is now "fully functioning" and will be shared with research partners this year.

The chip itself is conceived as modelled on the human brain - or at least how we know it to work - with pulses and spikes based around synapses, with different parts of the chip taking on different learning functions.

Krzanich said Intel is working with auto maker SAIC and digital mapping company NavInfo, both from China, to collect crowdsourced map data in the country.

Intel have always been pushing hard to develop and expand into new and unmapped computing territories - x86 won't last forever, after all. While one chip deals with neuromorphic computing, the second one is all about quantum computing.

The chip could be used in areas such as smarter security cameras and the infrastructure needed for real-time communication with autonomous vehicles.

Krzanich announced a partnership with Ferrari* North America to use Intel's AI technologies to apply data from the racetrack to enhance the experience for fans and drivers.

Intel said a new automated driving platform will use automotive-grade Atom processors with Mobileye EyeQ5 chips to power automated and autonomous driving systems.

Krzanich said Intel will use its True VR technology to deliver live and on-demand VR broadcasts of 30 Olympic events at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

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