Google, which is widely considered as the software engineering pioneer, has said that it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research. The company claims that it has developed a quantum processor that has completed a calculation in a few minutes, and adds that to complete the same calculation, a traditional supercomputer would take thousands of years. The findings were published in the scientific journal Nature, in which the researchers wrote that ‘quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws.’
Quantum computing is seen as a technology that could speed up tasks, for example, making smart cities more efficient. The fastest computers present today arguably take lot of time to complete these tasks. The technology, which is still in a nascent stage, relies on quantum bits (qubits), which can register data values of zero and one, simultaneously. Companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel are already pursuing the technology.
Last month, a leaked paper showed that Google’s quantum processor, Sycamore, finished a calculation in three minutes and 20 seconds — and that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to do the same thing. Google claimed that with Sycamore, it has achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ -- a term that is used to refer to a point when a quantum computer can perform a calculation that a traditional computer can’t complete within its lifetime.
However, Google’s competitor IBM says that the tech giant has not reached the milestone because it has underestimated the conventional supercomputer, called Summit. IBM claims that Summit could actually do the calculation in 2.5 days. For those who don’t know, Summit was developed by IBM and is at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, US. The debate on this topic will go on, but what’s satisfying is that the field of quantum computing is maturing.