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With quantum computing being the most happening technology, thousands of companies and research groups are in the race to constructing the first quantum computer that is believed to outperform the traditional supercomputers. The competition is not about winning the race but also about the methods used for quantum computing.
IonQ, one of the many companies developing a quantum computer, will be bringing out a new ‘trapped ion quantum’ computer with 79 processing qubits. Qubits or quantum bit is the basic unit of quantum information or the quantum version of the classical binary bit physically realized with a two-state device.
According to IonQ, this quantum computer would be beating Google’s 72-qubit quantum computer, not just in terms of the number of qubits, but also in the total processing performance.
IonQ which was founded on the idea that 'trapped ion quantum' computing, could outperform the silicon-based quantum computers Google and other companies are aiming to build.
Their single-qubit error rate is at 99.97% while other competitors have around 99.5, and a two-qubit error rate of 99.3%, whereas for others it is beneath 95%. The question revolves around how it should be compared to regular computers?
IonQ claims that according to the kind of workloads that quantum computers are being made to handle, it has already overtaken regular computers. According to the Bernstein-Vazirani Algorithm, which is a benchmark that will take off, will test a computer’s ability to determine an encoded number (called an oracle) when the computer can only ask in yes or no question.
When the algorithm is run for every number between 1 and 1023, a normal computer gets a 0.2% success rate. IonQ’s quantum computer gets a 79% success rate.
According to the CEO of IonQ, Mr.Christopher Monroe, “After two years of work, our against-the-grain bet is paying off”, He believes trapped ion quantum computing is the best bet. Even at this early stage, he believes that the results show the ion trap design has all the advantages it professes to be and that they expected more.”
Quantum computers isolate and manipulate quantum systems to create quantum versions of the computer bits, called qubits. Quantum computers replace the traditional 0 or 1 logic gates processors and replace them with 0 and 1 quantum gates, which simultaneously become 0 and 1 during calculations but output 0 or 1. This simple math is capable of reinventing computing in several disciplines like chemistry, medicine, energy, logistics and future fields like AI.
The specific 'trapped ion technology' the IonQ’s quantum computer relies on, replaces the supercooled silicon that Google, IBM, and Rigetti use with ytterbium which is identified as a silvery rare earth metal. The ionized ytterbium is suspended in an oscillating electromagnetic field, where it’s manipulated by engineers who program the lasers that input, store and retrieve information.
While the 'trapped ion' quantum computing still has some hurdles to overcome, which are slow operating times and massive sizes, the accuracy and scalability of the technology mean that IonQ will be letting companies use its computer somewhere in the immediate future.
The question under debate is the ‘Quantum supremacy’ when the best quantum computer becomes better than the best traditional computer. Though even IonQ will admit that they don’t know what is the governing factor of quantum computers as yet, it doesn’t seem too long before we start to take it for granted.