The chip was fabricated using a unique design to achieve improved yield and performance through advanced packaging technology. Intel’s entry into quantum computing marks a significant shift to mass production of superconducting technology.Making qubits, the building blocks of quantum computing, uniform and stable is a key obstacle, as they are tremendously fragile, and any noise or unintended observation of them can cause data loss. This fragility requires them to operate at about 20 millikelvin which makes the packaging of qubits key to their performance and function. Intel’s Components Research Group (CR) in Oregon and Assembly Test and Technology Development (ATTD) teams in Arizona are pushing the limits of chip design and packaging technology with a new architecture allowing improved reliability, thermal performance, and reduced radio frequency (RF) interference between qubits.
The package is about the size of a half-dollar coin and uses a scalable interconnect scheme that allows for 10-100 times more signals into and out of the chip as compared to wirebonded chips.
“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. “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.”
Intel’s work with QuTech, an advanced research center for quantum computing and quantum internet founded by TU Delft and TNO, began in 2015. Since that time, the collaboration has achieved many milestones – from demonstrating key circuit blocks for an integrated cryogenic-CMOS control system, to developing a spin qubit fabrication flow on Intel’s 300mm process technology, and developing the packaging for superconducting qubits.
Next: testing the chip
“With this test chip, we’ll focus on connecting, controlling and measuring multiple, entangled qubits towards an error correction scheme and a logical qubit,” 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 work in quantum computing goes well beyond the development and testing of superconducting qubit devices and goes up the stack from qubit devices to the hardware and software architecture required to control these devices as well as quantum applications.
Intel is also investigating multiple qubit types. These include the superconducting qubits incorporated into the QuTech test chip, and an alternative type called spin qubits in silicon. These spin qubits resemble a single electron transistor similar in many ways to conventional transistors and potentially able to be manufactured with comparable processes.
In January D-Wave in Canada launched a 2000 qubit quantum computer. D-wave’s technology has been under test by Google and NASA to determine the ability to handle quantum computations.
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