We all know what Google is. The incredible American search engine tool which is probably one of the most used websites in the world. One could fastly assume that Google is the most powerful tool in terms of algorythm power or data management, but is it? Maybe China’s supercomputer would make you think differently. In this article we present to you the amazing features of Jiuzhang, China’s new super computer.
A computer on steroids
China beats Google and conquers quantum supremacy. The Jiuzhang computer uses particles of light to perform a calculation in 200 seconds that would take 600 million years. Just over a year away from the United States, China also conquers so-called ‘quantum supremacy’. It demonstrated that its new Jiuzhang quantum computer can perform such a calculation thanks to its light particles, photons.
It is a historic milestone, which marks a turning point in the race for the computers of the future. “This is the beginning of a new computational era”, comments Fabio Sciarrino, from the Sapienza University of Rome. “The achievement of quantum supremacy, which today we prefer to define ‘quantum advantage’, demonstrates that at the hardware level we have achieved full control of technology to solve otherwise impossible problems.”
Catching up with Google
The first to do this in 2019 were the Google researchers. They demonstrated in Nature how their quantum computer Sycamore was unique. It indeed solved in just over three minutes an operation that would take 10,000 years for a traditional computer. All thanks to a processor with 53 qubits (the information units of quantum computers) made up of as many superconducting devices placed in a square matrix to communicate with each other.
“The Jiuzhang computer, on the other hand – says Sciarrino – used about seventy photons that move along waveguides coupled together with particular 3D geometries: the interference they cause on propagation of light gives the data processing. At the end of the propagation, the photons are measured one by one by detectors that give the final result”. The approach is therefore very different and so is the performance. “Jiuzhang apparently is a faster machine than Sycamore, if compared with traditional computers – underlies the expert – but unlike Google’s machine, the Chinese one is not programmable to solve different problems”.
Gaining the quantum advantage using two different paths “demonstrates how rapidly and mature the field is evoling,” Sciarrino observes. “At the moment these two machines have not yet solved a useful and practical problem, which can be beneficial for physics or the economy, but they open new perspectives for many potential applications, starting with cryptography.”
No traditional computer, according to the team of researchers, can perform the same operation in a reasonable amount of time. Moreover we can hardly bridge this gap with the improvement of classical algorithms or hardware. They used Gaussian boson sampling to provide a highly-efficient method to demonstrate quantum computational speed in solving some well-defined tasks. The average number of photons detected by the prototype was 43, while up tp 76 photons were observed at the output. The jiuzhang quantum computing system can implement large-scale Gaussian boson sampling 100,000 billion times faster than the world’s fastest supercomputer.
Is this a new hint of the evergrowing battle for technological supremacy between China and the US?
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