Semiconductor Industry Taking Quantum Seriously
(Semi-Engineering) The entire semiconductor industry is taking quantum seriously, even if the timing is rather hazy. The time frame for useful quantum computing applications that are not toy-sized is still a few years to a decade or more away. But the push is on now.
The industry is starting from a practical point of view by dealing with the devils that are known. For instance, in IC design and manufacturing, Intel is focusing on silicon that can be made in its existing fabs, and current electronic design automation tools are supporting quantum research as is.
It’s too early to solve the really sticky issues where quantum computing might require new or tweaked tools for IC design and verification. For example, error rates increase when more qubits are operating at once, and and those calculations are susceptibility to external noise (vibrations and temperature).
Juan Rey, vice president of engineering at Mentor, a Siemens Business. “From the semiconductor manufacturing point of view, there doesn’t seem to be a need to use some of the most advanced semiconductor processing techniques out there.” The challenges Rey sees today are in the materials, and getting consistency in the results.
Rey sees the challenges in EDA for quantum computing showing up when the number of qubits increase and more devices are integrated. “When companies go to large numbers of integrated devices, they may have some challenges that they are not having today. . ”
Even the QEDC, a new government-sponsored industry consortium for quantum computing, points out the need to create a quantum workforce to address the future challenges. “That’s when you look at a lot of this money coming in for this national quantum initiative,” said Pillarisetty. “A big charter there is to make sure that the students are actually getting trained so that when this workforce goes forward and scales up, you will have the actual workforce with the expertise coming in to actually meet the needs once this will become manufacturable.”
Silicon-based qubits take some of the guesswork and newness out of the quantum challenge because they are based on processes and techniques that have been refined over decades. “
Matt Johnson, founder and CEO, QC Ware, a company that makes algorithms for quantum computing. “It’s not yet there. Despite that, leaders in industry have decided that quantum computing needs to be on their strategic roadmap. And they need to be investing research and development dollars to understand how this is impacting their industry.