Quantum Computing: ‘D-Wave claims to have cracked the code’
Back in 1971 the first Intel processor was made up of 2,300 transistors. Intel now produce microprocessors with more than 5bn transistors. However, they’re still limited by their simple binary options. But as Trudeau explained, with quantum computers the bits, or “qubits” as they are known, afford far more options owing to the uncertainty of their physical state.
In a neat, spacious lab in Burnaby, a satellite of Vancouver, I’m looking inside what appears to be a large black fridge about 10 feet high. Within it is an elaborate structure of circuit boards, not unlike the sort of thing a physics class might construct out of Meccano, except with beautifully colourful niobium wafers as the centrepiece. It all looks fairly unremarkable, yet somewhere in here a multiplicity of different universes are thought to exist.
The lab belongs to a small company called D-Wave, a highly skilled collection of just 140 employees that prides itself on building the world’s first functioning quantum computer, which is what is contained within the large fridge-like casing. Actually it is a fridge, the coldest fridge ever assembled. The cooling apparatus enables the niobium computer chip at its core to function at a temperature of just under –273C, or as close to absolute zero as the known universe gets.
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