Intel Delivers 17-Qubit Quantum Chip to European Research Partner

By Tiffany Trader

October 10, 2017

On Tuesday (Oct. 10), Intel delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip to research partner QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. The announcement marks a major milestone in the 10-year, $50-million collaborative relationship with TU Delft and TNO, the Dutch Organization for Applied Research, to accelerate advancements in quantum computing.

Like IBM, Microsoft and Google, Intel is developing quantum computing technologies with the goal of building a commercial universal quantum computer that is some thousands of times larger than today’s prototypes. Quantum supremacy — the threshold when quantum machines outperform their classical counterparts on select problems — will be reached at roughly 50-qubits, but delivering on quantum’s promise for applications like chemistry, materials science and cryptography is going to require machines at least 1,000 times that scale.

Intel asserts that its fabrication and packaging expertise give it a leg up on its competitors in the space.

Intel’s director of quantum hardware, Jim Clarke, holds the new 17-qubit superconducting test chip. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

“We tapped into our existing knowledge of both fabrication and packaging here at Intel to build a packaged 17-qubit chip that has been optimized for the low-temperature [20 millikelvin – 250 times colder than deep space] environment,” said Jim Clarke, Intel’s director of quantum hardware.

The heart of the advance is a new architecture that improves reliability and thermal performance, and reduces radio frequency (RF) interference between qubits, said Clarke, while a scalable interconnect scheme allows for 10-100 times more signals into and out of the chip as compared to wirebonded chips. Intel emphasized its “advanced processes, materials and designs that enable [the company’s] packaging to scale for quantum integrated circuits, which are much larger than conventional silicon chips.”

The quantum supremacy horizon is likely to be reached within a year or two, but building a broadly useful quantum computer is likely to require thousands or millions of qubits (the quantum version of a classical bit). That could take a decade to achieve. “We are at mile one in a marathon,” said Clarke, “there’s a lot of learning to do, but we’re in it for the long-haul. So when we design these systems we’re not designing a system for something that probably won’t be useful today; we’re designing the whole system for something that will hit the commercial viability of a large-scale system.

“When I say system, what I mean is it’s more than a chip,” he said. “If I have a million qubit chip today I wouldn’t have the infrastructure to run it. This means the control electronics, the architecture, the algorithms and the software. At Intel, we’re working on all parts of the stack because we recognize that ultimately something that’s going to be relevant to the general population and commercial value to Intel is to build that complete system.”

Despite quantum computing’s very long rampup and recent investment and R&D spurt, the field is full of open questions. It’s far from clear what the superior qubit design will be so Intel is investigating multiple qubit types. Superconducting qubits are incorporated into its newest test chip, but the company has also been working on an alternative type called spin qubit in silicon, similar to a single electron transistor in a magnetic field. The qubit in silicon technology leverages Intel’s transistor expertise, where the superconducting qubits rely heavily on innovations in its packaging space.

With both of these systems Intel’s goal is to build a universal processor. “Both systems have advantages and disadvantages and neither system has been completely solved,” Clarke told us. “There’s still fundamental physics that have to be proven on both. We have a set of metrics that we’re trying to characterize for both types and to a certain extent, we’re hedging our bets. When one technology shows itself to be more viability than the other, we would probably pick one and run with it.”

Intel says its partnership with QuTech, begun in 2015, has enabled it to go from design and fabrication to test much more quickly. “Our quantum research has progressed to the point where our partner QuTech is simulating quantum algorithm workloads, and Intel is fabricating new qubit test chips on regular basis in our leading-edge manufacturing facilities,” said Dr. Michael Mayberry, corporate vice president and managing director of Intel Labs.

“With this test chip, we’ll focus on connecting, controlling and measuring multiple, entangled qubits towards an error correction scheme and a logical qubit,” said Professor Leo DiCarlo from QuTech. “This work will allow us to uncover new insights in quantum computing that will shape the next stage of development.”

The new test chip is about the size of a quarter in a package about the size of a half-dollar coin. In the unboxing video from QuTech’s Leo DiCarlo and Intel’s Dave Michalak, the duo report that the next step is to “test and characterize all the qubits in the device [to assess] how each performs individually and also how they all perform together when they’re entangled.”

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

HPE to Acquire Cray for $1.3B

May 17, 2019

Venerable supercomputer pioneer Cray Inc. will be acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for $1.3 billion under a definitive agreement announced this morning. The news follows HPE’s acquisition nearly three years ago o Read more…

By Doug Black & Tiffany Trader

China Establishes Seventh National Supercomputing Center

May 16, 2019

Chinese media is reporting that China will construct a new National Supercomputer Center in Zhengzhou, in central China's Henan Province. The new Zhengzhou facility will house a 100-petaflops supercomputer and will be ta Read more…

By Staff report

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Ken King

May 16, 2019

Today, as the final installment of our HPCwire People to Watch focus series, we present our interview with Ken King, general manager of OpenPOWER for the IBM Systems Group. Ken is responsible for building and managing t Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

For decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Autonomous Vehicles: New challenges for the CAE Data Center

Managing infrastructure complexity in the age of AI

When most of us hear the term autonomous vehicles, we conjure up images of driverless Waymos or robotic transport trucks driving long-haul highway routes. Read more…

What’s New in HPC Research: Image Classification, Crowd Computing, Genome Informatics & More

May 15, 2019

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE to Acquire Cray for $1.3B

May 17, 2019

Venerable supercomputer pioneer Cray Inc. will be acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for $1.3 billion under a definitive agreement announced this morning. T Read more…

By Doug Black & Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

CCC Offers Draft 20-Year AI Roadmap; Seeks Comments

May 14, 2019

Artificial Intelligence in all its guises has captured much of the conversation in HPC and general computing today. The White House, DARPA, IARPA, and Departmen Read more…

By John Russell

Cascade Lake Shows Up to 84 Percent Gen-on-Gen Advantage on STAC Benchmarking

May 13, 2019

The Securities Technology Analysis Center (STAC) issued a report Friday comparing the performance of Intel's Cascade Lake processors with previous-gen Skylake u Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Claims 6000x Speed-Up for Stock Trading Backtest Benchmark

May 13, 2019

A stock trading backtesting algorithm used by hedge funds to simulate trading variants has received a massive, GPU-based performance boost, according to Nvidia, Read more…

By Doug Black

ASC19: NTHU Returns to Glory

May 11, 2019

As many of you Student Cluster Competition fanatics know by now, Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) won the gold medal at the recently concluded AS Read more…

By Dan Olds

Intel 7nm GPU on Roadmap for 2021, OneAPI Coming This Year

May 8, 2019

At Intel's investor meeting today in Santa Clara, Calif., the company filled in details of its roadmap and product launch plans and sought to allay concerns about delays of its 10nm chips. In laying out its 10nm and 7nm timelines, Intel revealed that its first 7nm product would be... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Ten Great Reasons to Build the 1.5 Exaflops Frontier

May 7, 2019

It’s perhaps obvious that the fundamental reason for building expensive exascale computers is to drive science and industry forward, realizing the resulting b Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Claims 6000x Speed-Up for Stock Trading Backtest Benchmark

May 13, 2019

A stock trading backtesting algorithm used by hedge funds to simulate trading variants has received a massive, GPU-based performance boost, according to Nvidia, Read more…

By Doug Black

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This