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Feature Article

Feature Article

Quantum Computers Strive to Break Out of the Lab

A new feature article in IEEE Spectrum reviews the past, present, and future of quantum computing, which has received much attention in the last year. The main conclusion is that while small quantum computing circuits made of fewer than 100 quantum bits (“qubits”) have been demonstrated, their practical near-term utility is severely limited, and this is likely to remain the case for at least the next few years. In the near future, these quantum systems may be used to model other small quantum systems, such as small clusters of atoms and molecules.

A key problem is that these quantum systems are extremely sensitive to thermal and electrical noise, and will require a very large overhead of quantum error correction circuits, which are themselves composed of noise-sensitive qubits. Furthermore, most experts in the field view the eventual larger quantum computing systems as special purpose accelerators to be used together with classical computers, rather than as general-purpose replacements for classical computers.

The article also presents some examples of current quantum computing circuits, using superconducting and coupled ion technologies. These are being developed by such computing giants as IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Intel, as well as smaller companies such as IonQ, Rigetti, and D-Wave, and university and government laboratory teams.

For further details, see the article in IEEE Spectrum here.

Technology Spotlight

Technology Spotlight

“Technology for the Next 20-30 Years and Beyond,” by Greg Yeric, ARM Research, Austin, Texas

Dr. Yeric, ARM Fellow, was one of the invited speakers at the 2017 IEEE Industry Summit on the Future of Computing, held in Tysons Corner, VA, Nov. 10, 2017, as part of Rebooting Computing Week. Dr. Yeric focused on projections for the next 20-30 years of semiconductor device technology. For the next dozen years, traditional Moore’s Law scaling can continue with 3D stacking and integration of new memories with logic. However, looking further ahead, new materials and device technologies will be required, which can operate at much lower voltages and power levels. These may include 2D materials, such as graphene and molybdenum disulfide, and new low-power switches and wiring technologies. The key challenge is how to integrate these radical new technologies with silicon, so as to be available when they are needed before 2030. The semiconductor industry needs to identify these future technologies now, in order to develop the manufacturing techniques and circuit and system design tools for the future.

The talk by Dr. Yeric is available here.

Other talks from the 2017 Industry Summit and the co-located ICRC are available here.