(SouthChinaMorningPost) Chinese physicists say they have built a quantum computer one trillion times faster than the most powerful supercomputer, with potential for some real-life applications. The researchers said that using a process called “Gaussian boson sampling”, their Jiuzhang prototype quantum computer took a little over three minutes to complete a task that the world’s fastest conventional machine would not be able to complete in 600 million years.
“This achievement firmly established our country’s leading position in international quantum computing research,” a team of researchers led by Professor Pan Jianwei said in a statement introducing a paper published on the website of the Science magazine on Friday. Pan, a lead scientist in China’s national quantum research programme with the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province.
The Jiuzhang could be one of the most complex optical instruments ever built, with 25 crystals, each tailor-made and maintained at precise temperature, to manipulate the photons and simulate real-life chaos.
To obtain accurate results, Pan’s team also developed the world’s most sensitive light detectors.
The Jiuzhang, named after a 2,000-year-old Chinese maths text, is China’s answer to the sceptics on quantum computer technology. It does not need to work sealed in extremely low temperatures like some other quantum computers and can operate in a stable manner for longer.
The Jiuzhang is not the first quantum computer to appear to outperform a traditional computer. Google announced last year that Sycamore, a similar machine, could do a task in 200 seconds that would take 10,000 years on a supercomputer. And, in the boson test, it was 10 billion times faster than Sycamore, securing a huge advantage in performance highly unlikely to be challenged by a traditional computer, according to some physicists not involved in the study.
China and the US have engaged in a heated race in quantum technology.