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Intel shows design for ‘Horse Ridge’, its first cryogenic quantum computing chip

Intel's 'Horse Ridge' is the world's first cryogenic quantum computing control chip and wants to solve some of fundamental challenges that quantum computing faces right now, which are scalability, flexibility and fidelity.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 19, 2020 2:50:31 pm
Intel Horse Ridge, Intel Horse Ridge Quantum, Intel quantum computing, Intel quantum computer, Intel quantum chipset, Intel quantum SoC Stefano Pellerano, principal engineer at Intel Labs, holds Horse Ridge. The new cryogenic control chip will speed development of full-stack quantum computing systems, marking a milestone in the development of a commercially viable quantum computer. (Image credit: Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation)

Intel has revealed the technical details for its first cryogenic quantum computing control chip called Horse Ridge, which it claims could help build a practical quantum computing system. Intel presented a with QuTech, which is a partnership between TU Delft and TNO (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research), at the 2020 International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco, showcasing these claims.

According to Intel, ‘Horse Ridge’ wants to solve some of fundamental challenges that quantum computing faces right now, which are scalability, flexibility and fidelity.

Existing quantum computers work at really cold temperatures in order to be kept stable, near absolute zero on the kelvin scale or around -273.15 degrees celsius. There are also challenges about ensuring error-free calculations when working with larger qubit systems, which Horse Ridge can help address.

“Today, quantum researchers work with just a small number of qubits, using smaller, custom-designed systems surrounded by complex control and interconnect mechanisms. Intel’s Horse Ridge greatly minimizes this complexity. By systematically working to scale to thousands of qubits required for quantum practicality, we’re continuing to make steady progress toward making commercially viable quantum computing a reality in our future, ” Jim Clarke, director of quantum hardware, Intel Labs said in a press statement.

Read more: Quantum computing is coming, bit by qubit | Quantum Computer: Test done, real-world use a long way awayGoogle claims ‘Quantum supremacy’, Sundar Pichai calls it ‘hello world moment’ 

Horse Ridge uses a highly integrated system-on-chip (SoC) to offer improved qubit performance and more efficient scaling to larger qubit counts, which are required for quantum computing to solve practical, real-world applications, according to the company.

Key features of Horse Ridge are listed as

• A reduced form factor and overall power required to operate quantum systems, compared to the existing systems.

• It has the ability to scale to and control a larger number of qubits (up to 128 qubits).

• High flexibility in control pulses to reduce crosstalk among qubits with improved overall gate fidelity.

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In Quantum computing, the traditional one and zero binary is replaced by qubits, which can exist in multiple states. A quantum computing system relies on these qubits and quantum phenomena, and this can enable computing at a much faster level than existing computers.

Companies like Intel, IBM, Google and others are also exploring quantum computing, which they believe could solve real-world problems in the future. However, quantum computing still faces many challenges, especially when it comes to scaling and accuracy.

According to IBM, the Horse Ridge control chip can solve some of the existing problems by providing the ability to scale to and control thousands of qubits at the same time with high levels of fidelity.

The integrated SoC design for Horse Ridge is implemented using Intel’s 22nm FFL (FinFET Low Power) CMOS technology, and integrates four radio frequency (RF) channels into a single device. Each channel is able to control up to 32 qubits, which ultimately allows for potentially controlling up to 128 qubits with a single device.

Intel says this will also reduce the number of cables and rack previously required to set up the quantum computer. Further Horse Ridge offers the flexibility to cover a wide frequency range, and allows control of both superconducting qubits known as transmons and spin qubits.

While transmons operate at around 6 to 7 GHz, spin qubits operate around 13 to 20 GHz. Intel also said it is exploring silicon spin qubits, which have the potential to operate at temperatures as high as 1 kelvin.

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