Google’s Quantum Computer, could lead the way for much faster database searchers and cryptography. It should be able to carry out processes that are beyond the realms of classical computing.
Google appears to have reached an impressive milestone known as quantum supremacy, where a quantum computer is able to perform a calculation that is practically impossible for a classical one. But there are lots of difficulties left to jump over before the technology hits the big time.
For a start, the processors need to be more powerful. Unlike classical computers that store data as either a 0 or a 1, quantum computers handle data as a mixture of these two states.
Google’s quantum computer consisted of only 54 qubits – one of which didn’t work. For quantum computers to really come into their own, they will probably need thousands of qubits.
But scaling up the number of qubits won’t be easy. Qubits must be isolated from vibrations as they can be easily disturbed and there are many competing ideas on how best to do this. As well as Google, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, and others are all looking at how to advance the technology.
Also, on the quantum computer to-do list is error-correcting codes. Classical computers have devices to make certain that when tiny mistakes happen they are automatically corrected.
Quantum computing has been on the tech radar for some time now, but it has additionally been lurking in the background of the blockchain ecosystem for very different reasons. The new advancement of computing allows for complex equations and problems to be resolved exponentially quicker than is currently accessible.
However, it has always been predominantly a futuristic, almost science fiction-like pursuit; for blockchain that has been just fine as well because we have been warned that quantum computation could render existing encryption standards obsolete, threatening the security of every significant blockchain.
This week, news has emerged that Google has made a recent quantum computing breakthrough, achieving quantum supremacy.
It is being reported that Google, using a quantum computer, managed to complete a calculation in just over three minutes that would take the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years.
“We shouldn’t get too carried away with this,” states Ciarán Gilligan-Lee at University College London. This is an important step in the era of quantum computing, but there’s still a long way to go, he says.
Eventually, the hope is that quantum computers could help revolutionize our understanding of chemistry and material science by performing simulations that are too complicated for classical computers.
“There are certain quantities that you’d like to know that you can’t easily learn from experiment and can’t calculate with supercomputers today. This is where quantum computers can help,” says Scott Aaronson at the University of Texas at Austin.
Quantum computers could also be used to crack some forms of encryption that are used to keep the internet secure. But people are already working on alternatives that wouldn’t be so easily broken.
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