June 17, 2024
Quantum leap in computing as scientists claim 'supremacy'
Google’s quantum supreme cryostat with Sycamore inside.
Google’s quantum supreme cryostat with Sycamore inside.

Scientists claimed Wednesday to have achieved a near-mythical state of computing in which a new generation of machine vastly outperforms the world’s fastest super-computer, known as “quantum supremacy”.

A team of experts working on Google’s Sycamore machine said their quantum system had executed a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken a classic computer 10,000 years to complete.

A rival team at IBM has already expressed scepticism about their claim.

But if verified and harnessed, the Google device could make even the world’s most powerful supercomputers—capable of performing a giddying 20,000 trillion calculations per second—look like an early 2000s flip-phone.

Regular computers, even the fastest known to man, function in binary fashion: they carry out tasks using tiny fragments of data known as bits that are only ever either 1 or 0.

Fragments of data on a quantum computer, however, can be both 1 and 0 at the same time, harnessing some of the most mind-boggling powers of quantum mechanics to create exponentially larger amounts of information.