A test run by a team of Google engineers has found that quantum computing could potentially solve calculations 47 years quicker than any supercomputer. Here, we’ll look at what quantum computing is, the significance of Google’s findings, and what it might signify for the future.
What is quantum computing?
At its most basic level, quantum mechanics works on the basis that matter in a physical state can behave as a particle and wave, which cannot be explained by classical physics schools of thought. Due to this mystical nature, quantum mechanics have long since inspired a wide range of media, typically portrayed as a valuable resource or as an element of time travel, a la Quantum of Solace and Quantum Leap respectively.
The supernatural elements of the phenomena have even inspired online casino games, such as blackjack games at Betfair Casino (which you can explore here: https://casino.betfair.com/c/blackjack). Players can try their hand at Live Quantum Blackjack Plus, which plays upon the themes of duality and unpredictability of quantum mechanics, as well as the fast-paced nature of quantum computing.
With the understanding of quantum mechanics’ unpredictability, put simply, a quantum computer takes advantage of the unexplainable behaviour of quantum mechanics, using specialist hardware and quantum algorithms. Whilst classic computers use the binary language of 1s and 0s in electric impulses, quantum computers use electrons, photons, or other subatomic particles. Within quantum bits, these particles can exist in two different states simultaneously. As such, whilst electronic impulses have to be 1 or 0 – in quantum computing, the particles can be 1 and 0.
Due to this, quantum computers have the potential to solve calculations much faster than classical computers. Nevertheless, quantum computers are still largely experimental and still have various issues to iron out. Though progress has steadily been made over the years to improve quantum computers and create a practical and capable machine, Google’s latest breakthrough signals a giant leap in development.
Quantum computer device can solve calculations 47 years quicker than world’s best supercomputer
Recently, Google ran a test on the Sycamore quantum computer that consisted of 70 operational quantum bits. The team of Google engineers used a technique known as random circuit sampling to take readings that had been randomly generated through quantum processes.
By using random circuit sampling, this theoretically minimised the threat of external noise pollution affecting the calculation results and optimised the speed of the computer. You can find out more about this complex criterion in the Advanced Quantum Technologies Journal: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/qute.202300030. The Sycamore quantum computer was able to complete the calculations in a matter of seconds.
The team then calculated how much time an existing classical supercomputer would need to do the same calculations. To do so, they looked to the world’s first-ever exascale computer, the Frontier.
The Frontier supercomputer can complete 1.1 exaflops – or 1.1 quintillion – operations every second. It is estimated that advancements could improve the performance to 2 exaflops per second in the future. For more information about the Frontier, check out this article: https://spectrum.ieee.org/frontier-exascale-supercomputer. Despite this, Google estimated that it would take 47 years for the Frontier to do the same calculations, making the Sycamore quantum computer 47 years faster than the fastest classical computer.
Though we are far from an efficient and stable quantum computer, Google’s latest system test shows promising results for quantum computing in the future.