Inside Quantum Technology

Why IBM Thinks Google Has Not Achieved Quantum Supremacy

(Vice) IBM’s quantum computing research team, argued in a blog post that Google’s “quantum supremacy” it’s not even really a thing.
IBM’s resounding rejection of the much-hyped quantum computing milestone came two days before Google’s paper was published on Wednesday this week.  See IBM’s Research Blog here.
In the blog post published on Monday, IBM researchers Edwin Pednault, John Gunnels and Jay Gambetta disputed Google’s claim that it would take a state-of-the-art classical computer around 10,000 years to complete the sampling task Google used to demonstrate quantum supremacy on its Sycamore quantum computer. “Supremacy” here is the point at which a quantum computer can quickly complete tasks that would take a non-quantum computer more than a human lifetime to do.
The researchers instead claim that IBM’s Summit supercomputer could perform effectively the same job in just 2.5 days, by using hard drive storage and “performance-enhancing techniques,” which Google allegedly did not consider in its estimates.
“I regard the quality of the fabrication and the way the control systems work as a superb piece of engineering,” said Peter Knight, a professor of quantum optics at Imperial College London and advisor to the UK Research & Innovation’s (UKRI) Quantum Technology Strategic Advisory Board.
According to Knight, there’s also much to be said for reducing the power and resources it takes to run computational tasks. Even if, as IBM claim, a classical computer can achieve similar results in 2.5 days, Google’s ability to complete the task in just 300 seconds has huge implications. Knight mentioned, as an example, the “computationally intensive” problem of protein folding—a biochemical process thought to cause diseases like Alzheimers when it goes wrong— which quantum startups are already working on.
NOTE: The original article is worth a click and a read of the entire discussion.

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