Intel showed off a new chip for quantum computing Tuesday as the company races toward creating a new level of advanced computing. It could help enable a new class of technology with the power to simulate the natural world or solve extremely complex mathematical problems.
Intel made its new chip in Hillsboro, [Oregon], the company's most advanced research and manufacturing site. It consists of 17 qubits -- the basic building blocks of quantum computing.
Intel delivered the chip to a Dutch institute, QuTech, which is partnering with Intel on research into quantum computing. Two years ago, Intel committed $50 million to the work.
Microsoft, IBM and Google are also developing their quantum computing technology. Intel says its work differs from rival initiatives because it's looking at multiple types of qubits.
"Intel's expertise in fabrication, control electronics and architecture sets us apart and will serve us well as we venture into new computing paradigms, from neuromorphic to quantum computing," said Michael Mayberry, who works in Hillsboro as managing director of Intel Labs.
While Intel dominates the market for conventional computers such as PCs and laptops, the company has lagged in mobile technology and faces growing competition in hot fields such as artificial intelligence. With initiatives such as quantum computing, the company is working to get ahead in emerging technologies.
Conventional computing consists of binary information, commonly expressed as a 1 or zero. Quantum bits can be in more than one state at a time, enabling more complex work. For example, Intel said Tuesday that quantum computers could simulate the complex natural world to enable advances in chemistry and molecular modeling.
Intel said qubits are very fragile and must operate at temperatures much colder than outer space. But Intel said it's now making them regularly.
The company maintains its advances in materials science and semiconductor manufacturing can apply to quantum computing, too, potentially giving it an advantage in the field.
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Image credit: Intel Corporation.