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article imageIntel pledges $50m investment in quantum computing research

By James Walker     Sep 5, 2015 in Technology
Intel has announced that it is making a long-term investment into the development of quantum computing systems. It will contribute $50 million over the next 10 years to help shape the future of computing for when semi-conductors are obsolete.
Motherboard reports that Intel announced the funding for the QuTech quantum computing research facility on Friday. The unit is based at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich wrote an open letter in which he sets out his plans for the future of quantum computing. He admits "there are significant challenges to overcome," noting that the idea of an electron being in two places at once while spinning both clockwise and counter-clockwise simultaneously "requires suspending conventional wisdom."
Krzanich is optimistic that these challenges can be overcome, saying "solving big problems is what we do at Intel." He wants the company to help further the development of quantum computing by making its expertise in manufacturing and electronics accessible to the researchers who need the information, explaining he is confident because "this is what we do best." He writes:
"Intel can help advance progress in this field through our leading manufacturing, electronics and architectural expertise. We can help with scaling this technology. Why am I so confident? Because this is what we do best. This research is on the cutting edge of silicon, architecture and software. Intel's entire history has been built on driving innovations in the very leading edge of all three of these."
He continues to add that the advent of quantum computing could finally bring the answers to problems "practically insurmountable" today, creating a technology "we'll all be incredibly proud to play a part in developing." Krzanich wants Intel to be there at that time, as it has been for years with its silicon semiconductor processors used in the vast majority of desktop computers worldwide.
The notion that things can be in more than one state in more than one place at any given time is integral to quantum computing. Unlike the binary bits of a conventional computer, where only 0 or 1 are acceptable values, quantum systems use "qubits" — quantum bits that can be set to 0, 1 or a superposition of both.
When combined with other concepts from quantum physics, like entanglement theory and tunneling, this effectively means a quantum computer can perform several calculations simultaneously at far greater speed than a silicon one could ever achieve.
Krzanich expects that it will take "at least a dozen years" before quantum computing becomes fully viable. This timeframe will only be achieved if extensive research into quantum conditions and particles is undertaken now, helped by the involvement of governments, academics and technology companies.
Quantum computing undoubtedly still has a long way to go before systems appear in the windows of retail stores. Commitments by companies as notable as Intel will only help in its long-term development, although Motherboard notes that $50 million is a negligible amount to Intel, a firm which received $56 billion in revenue in 2013 alone.
More about Intel, Quantum, quantum computing, Physics, qubit
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