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!

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiology. Clara, you may recall, is Nvidia’s biomedical platform Read more…

By John Russell

DARPA, NSF Seek Real-Time ML Processor

March 18, 2019

A new U.S. research initiative seeks to develop a processor capable of real-time learning while operating with the “efficiency of the human brain.” The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Defense Advanced Re Read more…

By George Leopold

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First U.S. 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 exaflops, will be delivered by the end of 2021 to Argonne Nation Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor 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

The Spark That Ignited A New World of Real-Time Analytics

High Performance Computing has always been about Big Data. It’s not uncommon for research datasets to contain millions of files and many terabytes, even petabytes of data, or more. Read more…

NASA’s Pleiades Simulates Launch Abort Scenarios

March 15, 2019

NASA is using flow simulations running on its Pleiades supercomputer to help design the agency’s next manned spacecraft, Orion. Crew safety is paramount, so NASA engineers are using the HPC cluster to simulate and v Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiolo Read more…

By John Russell

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First U.S. 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

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

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quick Take: Trump’s 2020 Budget Spares DoE-funded HPC but Slams NSF and NIH

March 12, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, released yesterday, proposes deep cuts in many science programs but seems to spare HPC funding by the Depar Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Wins Mellanox Stakes for $6.9 Billion

March 11, 2019

The long-rumored acquisition of Mellanox came to fruition this morning with GPU chipmaker Nvidia’s announcement that it has purchased the high-performance net Read more…

By Doug Black

Optalysys Rolls Commercial Optical Processor

March 7, 2019

Optalysys, Ltd., a U.K. company seeking to advance it optical co-processor technology, moved a step closer this week with the unveiling of what it claims is th Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel Responds to White House AI Initiative

March 6, 2019

The Trump Administration’s release last month of the “American AI Initiative,” aimed at prioritizing federal R&D investments in machine intelligence, Read more…

By Doug Black

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail 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

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

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

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

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

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

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

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

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

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

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. 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