Google Bristlecone May Usher In Mainstream Quantum Computing

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Tech giant Google is previewing a new quantum processor called Bristlecone, and the powerful new processor and research behind it may end bringing quantum computing into the mainstream. Bristlecone uses a new architecture that allows 72 quantum bits on a single array with an overlapping design that puts two different grids together. Google has optimized Bristlecone for the lowest possible error rate using a specialized process called Quantum Error Correction, and without those wasted calculations, the company's researchers are confident that Bristlecone will be able to outperform a traditional supercomputer on a common, well-defined computing problem, a concept called Quantum Superiority. If this happens, quantum processing will become viable for a wide variety of use cases. Given the much higher power efficiency and raw horsepower in comparison to normal processors, this, in turn, means that Google can begin selling or renting out the Bristlecone platform, and quantum computing will almost certainly go mainstream.

For the uninitiated, quantum processing is done with light instead of electricity. This means that instructions can travel at the speed of light, rather than the relatively limited speed of electricity. Additionally, quantum processors can take advantage of that difference to use designs that can pack more raw power into each processor cycle. Quantum computing is measured in terms of qubits, which are essentially the quantum version of a bit, which is a single on or off signal. Both are read in binary code as a single 1 or 0. Due to the increased speed and efficiency of using light instead of electricity, quantum processors can get more done in the same time and using less energy, when compared to current technology.

Quantum computing is currently used in a very limited number of use cases, most of which are experimental or theoretical in nature. With proper error correction and better energy efficiency, Bristlecone could be the first processor to ever exhibit Quantum Superiority. Once that happens, the floodgates, so to speak, will be open; quantum computing could nudge into just about every space currently dominated by electricity-based processors, though home PCs and laptops with quantum processors could be a ways off, since quantum computers require special hardware. In time, quantum computing, if Google is successful in bringing it to the masses, could mean the next evolution in cheaper, more powerful computers.

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