China is challenging Google’s ‘quantum supremacy’ by developing a supercomputer capable of solving tasks hundreds of times more difficult

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July 14, 2021, 12:05 GMT

Zu Chongzhi was able to solve a task of just over an hour that would take about 8 years of work with the most advanced non-quantum supercomputer.

The Zu Chongzhi quantum supercomputer, developed by engineers at China University of Science and Technology, is the world’s most powerful computer, according to its creators.

The device was able to solve a task in just over an hour that would take about 8 years of work from the most advanced non-quantum supercomputer.

Physicist Peter told The New Scientist, Knight, who was not involved in the design.

Zu Chongzhi contains a 2D processor and 66 functional qubits – or quantum bits – that can operate simultaneously. It is capable of completing sampling tasks with a system size of 56 qubits and 20 cycles. According to Chinese engineers, it is “2 or 3 orders of magnitude” – hundreds or thousands of times – more powerful than the Sycamore quantum supercomputer, with which Google declared its “quantum supremacy” in October 2019.

The superiority of the Chinese device can be explained not only by the greater number of qubits, but also by their management, Zu Chongzhi uses optical circuits to control and read chips.

Like Sycamore, Zu Chongzhi can solve various tasks and is fully programmable. In this it is quite different from another Chinese supercomputer, Jiuzhang, which is 10 billion times faster than Google, but it performs only one task: finding solutions to the problem of boson sampling. In addition, Zu Chongzhi demonstrates the scalability of the technology.

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“We have observed that the performance of the entire system behaves as expected when the system size grows from small to large, confirming our high-precision quantum operations and low correlative errors in the Zu Chongzhi processor. The quantum processor features a scalable architecture that supports surface code error correction, which can be serves as a test bed for fault-tolerant quantum computing,” its developers noted in an article that has not been peer-reviewed and can be accessed at the arXiv repository.

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