(PCGamer) IBM and Google, the giants of quantum computing are politely battling for quantum supremacy in computing, writes Ian Evenden.
At the end of last year, a Google-backed team announced that it had achieved supremacy: carrying out a computational task (checking the outputs from a quantum random-number generator) in 200 seconds that a classical supercomputer would take 10,000 years to complete. Google used a 53-qubit processor named Sycamore.
IBM, no stranger to the quantum computer or, indeed, classical supercomputing. And rather than a ding-dong between robotic spokes-AIs, the whole thing played out in the genteel language of the academic paper. Big Blue pointed to a different classical computing technique that could do the random-number-checking in two days “and with far greater fidelity. This is in fact a conservative, worst-case estimate.
Google’s 200 seconds claim is still faster, but it’s not the complete owning that was initially reported. More of a quantum advantage than full supremacy.
Preskill then jumped into the debate with a column in Quanta magazine, a publication that aims to aid the public understanding of a very complex subject and therefore very much the PC Gamer of quantum physics. In it, he discussed problems with the term ‘quantum supremacy’ itself, before congratulating the Google team on its achievement and pointing out the main issue, “The catch, as the Google team acknowledges, is that the problem their machine solved with astounding speed was carefully chosen just for the purpose of demonstrating the quantum computer’s superiority.

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