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Chinese Quantum Computer Beats Out Google’s 55-Qubit Sycamore

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15th Nov 2021

Google’s Sycamore quantum computer falls short of Chinese research team’s Zuchongzhi 2.1 quantum computer.


A team of Chinese researchers have claimed to have created two different types of quantum computers that can perform calculations that would be completely impossible for non-quantum computers, and that can outperform other competitors in terms of speed.

You might be thinking, “what the heck is a quantum computer?”

Fundamentally they work differently to what we’d consider ‘classic’ computers. They use ‘qubits’ (quantum bits) which work by storing a combination of binary digits (bits – ‘0 1’) through superposition.

The team, helmed by Pan Jianwei, a quantum physicist from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), state they’ve designed a quantum computer that’s a 66-qubit superconductor, making it 10 million times faster than the world’s fastest digital supercomputer, and a million times more powerful than Google’s 55-qubit Sycamore quantum processor.

It has been named ‘Zuchongzhi 2.1’ after the noted 5th century Chinese mathematician and astronomer.

The 62-qubit superconducting prototype, Zuchongzhi, was unveiled by Chinese researchers in May, making the 2.1 an upgraded version.

Zuchongzhi 2.1 isn’t the only quantum computer floating around, however, in 2019 Google’s Sycamore processor achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ for the first time, which far exceeded the performance of domestic computer systems. Google says that Sycamore performed a specific task in 200 seconds – a task that apparently it would take the world’s best supercomputer nearly 10,000 years to complete.

The Zuchongzhi 2.1 research team also lays claim to having built a novel light-based photonic quantum computer, named  ‘Jiuzhang 2.0’ which is said to perform tasks and calculations up to 100 trillion times faster than the world’s fastest existing supercomputer, and large-scale Gaussian boson sampling (GBS) 1 septillion times faster.

The experiments that the researchers ran Zuchongzhi 2.1 and Jiuzhang 2.0 involved things like calculating the probability that a specific input configuration may lead to a particular output configuration.

These are simply not possible for conventional devices.

Jiuzhang 2.0 can, according to the researchers, sample the output of 1,043 possible outcomes 1,024 times faster than a ‘standard’ supercomputer.

They also noted that a sampling calculation using Zuchongzhi 2.1 is about 1,000 times more difficult to perform on a classical computer.

This indicates that our research has entered its second stage to start realising fault-tolerating quantum computing and near-term applications such as quantum machine learning and quantum chemistry. – Zhu Xiaobo – Study’s Co-Author



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