Google looks to build quantum computer chips

Google's Quantum AI Lab is developing its own hardware for research into quantum computing and machine learning.

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Google is expanding its efforts in quantum computing with a new hardware initiative as part of its Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Google's Quantum AI team announced Tuesday that it will start designing and building quantum information processors that are based on "superconducting electronics." This will eventually let the Quantum AI Lab conduct quantum computing research using hardware based on its own designs.

Google has partnered with UC Santa Barbara physicist John Martinis and his team to build out the processors. Martinis is a leader in the field of quantum research and was awarded the London Prize earlier this year for his work in quantum information processing and computing.

"With an integrated hardware group the Quantum AI team will now be able to implement and test new designs for quantum optimization and inference processors based on recent theoretical insights as well as our learnings from the D-Wave quantum annealing architecture," wrote Hartmut Neven, Google's director of engineering, in a Google+ post on Tuesday.

The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, launched back in 2013, is a collaboration between Google, NASA's Ames Research Center, and the Universities Space Research Association. The group aims to study how quantum computing can be optimized to advance machine learning.

Quantum computing promises to solve unimaginably large and complex computer problems that classical computing could never crack. In today's machines, data is represented by either a 1 or a 0 -- bits that are either on or off. By contrast, in quantum computing, data is theoretically handled by qubits, existing as both 1 and 0 at the same time. If you've never heard of quantum computing, it's likely because only a handful of companies are undertaking research in the field due to physical and financial barriers related to building and running quantum computers.

While Google is looking to research quantum computing using its own hardware, the Quantum AI team will continue to run experiments using D-Wave computers, the world's first commercially available quantum computers. "We will continue to collaborate with D-Wave scientists and to experiment with the 'Vesuvius' machine at NASA Ames which will be upgraded to a 1000 qubit 'Washington' processor," wrote Neven.

CNET has contacted Google for comment on the announcement. We will update this story when we have more information.

(Via Reuters)

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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