Defending Quantum Computing’s Challenges. Perhaps because Jim Clarke, Director of Quantum Hardware for Intel, reads The Qubit Report, he knows that there are “big” challenges facing quantum computing standing in it’s way. But it will get here. Because quantum is coming.
Okay, so maybe Mr. Clarke does not read The Qubit Report, but if he did he would see that we try and present both the optimistic (prolific) and the pessimistic (few and far between) opinions otoward the veracity of quantum computing. Granted his latest piece found on IEEE SPECTRUM is Intel-centric, but the piece points out why quantum is coming and why pessimism needs a taste of reality.
In his Intel-driven stance to take a “pragmatic view of quantum computing,” Mr. Clarke cites the opportunity to explore quantum computing as “worth pursuing.” Overall, he believes it is “far too soon to say we’ll ‘never’ realize the promise of quantum computing.” The four key challenges to this technology coming to fruition, he perceives, are:
Qubit Quality. Today’s qubits produce erroneous (noisey) results soon into operation. They have to have staying power.
Error Correction. As of yet unproven, error correction effectiveness at scale is required and with finnicky qubits in use today, it’s a challenge. But back to scale. Scaling is the challenge and error correction must come along when scaling. It just is not proven to at scale – yet.
Qubit Control. Control of the qubit must be accomplished, again, at scale. Thousands upon tens of thousands of qubits will be needed to prove the efficacy of quantum computing early-on. Control of the qubits is without question a fundamental requirement of any quantum computer. Mr. Clarke considers qubit control “daunting.”
Too Many Wires. Scale, again, is an issue. At present, Intel’s quantum computers require multiple lasers per qubit. It is unfathomable to have many thousands of wires connected to lasers connected to single qubits and still expect the device to function. As Mr. Clarke stated frankly,
“It is difficult to believe that we could build a million-qubit chip with many millions of wires connecting to the circuit board or coming out of the cryogenic measurement chamber. In fact, the semiconductor industry recognized this problem in the mid-1960s and designated it Rent’s Rule. Put another way, we will never drive on the quantum highway without well designed roads.”
So, the four challenges above, are each filled with many other challenges. But before anyone says quantum computing is “never” coming, take some time to get familiar with the rapid advances being made. From Qubit’s perspective, since December of 2017 when The Qubit Report went live, we have seen a rapid uptick in the world-wide interest, action, and success being taken to overcome these challenges. But we must be careful and not count the chickens before they hatch. We’ll be saying “Because Quantum is Coming” for a very long time; but we believe it is coming, sooner than later. Qubit.