INTEL IS not exactly having the best start to 2018, with some absolutely horrific publicity regarding a flaw in its intrinsic chip design. But there's a spattering of joy as the company reveals it has a new quantum chip that actually might be as good as quantum chips are supposed to be, not as average as they have been.
Revealed at CES (of course) the new 49 qubit test chip is its first effort that has some hope of outdoing silicon supercomputers, eventually, one day.
Tangle Lake, in accordance with Intel's naming policy of places you can drown, was announced in Intel boss Brian Krzanich's keynote at the show, and is, for rivals IBM and Google who have both been researching this, a sudden jolt given that both have announced similar in the last few months - IBM's prototype actually hits the magic 50.
Intel has therefore played down the chip a little because it's not quite 50 qubits, so we may as well all take our toys and go home, but their caution masks an undeniable achievement that the potential for quantum might actually be a thing. It's also a huge step up from the 17 qubits it was showing off just a few months ago.
Research in the past has shown that current quantum machines aren't actually much better than the silicon ones they're supposed to be vastly superior to.
So when can we cure cancer with it? Not anytime soon. Quantum is still ridiculously hard to make, ridiculously hard to make stable, and ridiculously hard to make at anything like quantity.
Oh yes - and it only operates at just above absolute zero, which is a nightmare when it comes to the Health and Safety Executive's rules about minimum working temperatures for employees.
Intel's other approach is neuromorphic computing. That means making chips work more like the human brain thinks. And no, that doesn't mean morose, neurotic and happy to watch Come Dine With Me instead of working.
Just us? Never mind. µ
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