Quantum computing is the next step in the evolution of technology, experts say, and no company is leading the charge quite like Google. They are currently testing a 20 qubit processor, and are on track to develop a 49 qubit chip by the end of the year.
Well, what is a qubit? Qubit is short for “quantum bit”, and it is essentially a more powerful version of the “bit” that your everyday computer uses. However, they are much more volatile, and quantum computers are prone to errors.
In order to reach their goal of “quantum supremacy”, which is when quantum computers will be able to solve problems that ordinary computers can’t, Google will need to develop a 49 qubit processor with a “two qubit fidelity” of 99.7%. Two qubit fidelity is a measure of how error free a quantum computer is, and 99.7% is quite a lofty goal.
Alan Ho, an engineer working at Google, stated that his team is working on a 20 qubit system with two qubit fidelity of 99.5%. This is more error prone and less powerful than Google’s goal, but Ho is confident his team can deliver the 49 qubit chip by the end of 2017.
So what does this mean for consumers? Well, it is impossible to utilise the power of quantum computing without error correction, and Alan Ho says that error corrected quantum computers could be as far away as 2027. This means that we will not be seeing useful quantum devices any time soon.
However, if Google manages to pull off their goal of quantum supremacy, it will be a major breakthrough for quantum science.