Is China Leading the Quantum Computing Race?
(TechWireAsia) To date, China has invested heavily in quantum computing, with Xi Jinping’s government spending US$10 billion on the country’s National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences.
Earlier this month, a team under the direction of Pan Jianwei at the University of Science and Technology in China (USTC), said its quantum computer succeeded in performing a calculation 100 trillion times faster than a conventional computer could — surpassing Google’s achievement by a factor of 10 billion, according to the Xinhua.
Researchers from USTC explained that this quantum computer prototype named Jiuzhang delivered results in minutes calculated to take more than 2 billion years of effort by the world’s third-most-powerful supercomputer. This achievement marks China’s first milestone on its mission to attain full-scale quantum computing.
According to reports, Lu Chaoyang, a professor in charge of the experiment at USTC stated that Jiuzhang achieved the breakthrough by manipulating particles of light. The approach is different than the one used by Google, which used super cold, superconducting metal, to build quantum circuits to manipulate qubits.
IBM too leveraged on a similar approach. In fact, both tech giants have invested large sums of money into superconducting circuits to push quantum computing research. On the other hand, Honeywell and IonQ have been developing alternative quantum computing architectures that involve trapping ions. Moreover, Australia’s Silicon Quantum Computing uses spin-based silicon qubits for its quantum systems.
Jiuzhang cannot be used immediately in real-life applications. It will need to work with a programmable chip to perform various calculations. On rumors about the threat, it poses to cryptocurrency, or any encryption used by finance, communication, and government systems currently; Jiuzhang is reported to be unable to solve the factoring problem that is crucial to decoding encrypted information.