Purdue University Pushes Forward With Probabilistic Bits, P-bits; “Poor Man’s Q-bit”
‘Poor man’s qubit’ can solve quantum problems without going quantum
Excerpts and salient points ~
+ Engineers at Purdue University and Tohoku University in Japan have built the first hardware to demonstrate how the fundamental units of what would be a probabilistic computer – called p-bits – are capable of performing a calculation that quantum computers would usually be called upon to perform.
“There is a useful subset of problems solvable with qubits that can also be solved with p-bits. You might say that a p-bit is a ‘poor man’s qubit,’” Datta said.
+ The team built a device that is a modified version of magnetoresistive random-access memory, or MRAM, which some types of computers use today to store information. The technology uses the orientation of magnets to create states of resistance corresponding to zero or one.
+ Tohoku University researchers William Borders, Shusuke Fukami and Hideo Ohno altered an MRAM device, making it intentionally unstable to better facilitate the ability of p-bits to fluctuate. Purdue researchers combined this device with a transistor to build a three-terminal unit whose fluctuations could be controlled. Eight such p-bit units were interconnected to build a probabilistic computer.
+ The circuit successfully solved what is often considered a “quantum” problem: Breaking down, or factoring, numbers such as 35,161 and 945 into smaller numbers, a calculation known as integer factorization. These calculations are well within the capabilities of today’s classical computers, but the researchers believe that the probabilistic approach demonstrated in this paper would take up much less space and energy.
+ “On a chip, this circuit would take up the same area as a transistor, but perform a function that would have taken thousands of transistors to perform. It also operates in a manner that could speed up calculation through the parallel operation of a large number of p-bits,” said Ahmed Zeeshan Pervaiz, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering at Purdue.
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