Intel Labs has unveiled what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind cryogenic control chip—code-named “Horse Ridge”—that will speed up development of full-stack quantum computing systems. Horse Ridge will enable control of multiple quantum bits (qubits) and set a clear path toward scaling larger systems—a major milestone on the path to quantum practicality. Developed together with Intel’s research collaborators at QuTech, a partnership between TU Delft and TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), Horse Ridge is fabricated using Intel’s 22nm FinFET technology. In-house fabrication of these control chips at Intel will dramatically accelerate the company’s ability to design, test and optimise a commercially viable quantum computer.
Why it matters: In the race to realise the power and potential of quantum computers, researchers have focused extensively on qubit fabrication, building test chips that demonstrate the exponential power of a small number of qubits operating in superposition. However, in early quantum hardware developments—including design, testing and characterisation of Intel’s silicon spin qubit and superconducting qubit systems—Intel identified a major bottleneck toward realising commercial-scale quantum computing: interconnects and control electronics.
With Horse Ridge, Intel introduces an elegant solution that will enable the company to control multiple qubits and set a clear path toward scaling future systems to larger qubit counts—a major milestone on the path to quantum practicality.
What quantum practicality is: Quantum computers promise the potential to tackle problems that conventional computers can’t handle by leveraging a phenomena of quantum physics that allows qubits to exist in multiple states simultaneously. As a result, qubits can conduct a large number of calculations at the same time—dramatically speeding up complex problem-solving.
Intel’s investment in quantum computing covers the full hardware and software stack in pursuit of the development and commercialisation of a practical, commercially viable quantum system. With Horse Ridge, Intel radically simplifies the control electronics required to operate a quantum system.
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