Google begins creating its first quantum computer

4 Sep 2014

Internet search giant Google is looking to crack the next evolution of the computer as it begins to design and produce hardware with the hope of building its first immeasurably fast quantum computer.

A functioning quantum computer is considered one of the ‘Holy Grails’ of computing compared with traditional computers, as it uses the fascinating, and somewhat mystifying, science of quantum physics to perform operations.

When functional, it could surpass a traditional computer’s speed of computation by a factor of thousands and measured in qubits, which, when working together, can eliminate the problem of information trying to access incorrect routes that exist in current computing systems.

Now, according to MIT Technology Review, Google is using the technology it acquired in 2009 from D-wave Systems to build its own prototype and quantum computing hardware lab.

Led by Prof John Martinis of the University of California, the development of the technology and lab will look to improve on D-wave System’s technology that has proved controversial among academics after they had previously claimed they had cracked quantum computing back in 2007.

However, tests run on the hardware earlier this year found no evidence for this claim but now Martinis is looking to develop 10 years’ worth of research on the science to expand on the five qubits of combined processing power he and his fellow scientists have achieved, which remains the record to date.

However, it is generally understood that a quantum computer will need to be capable of combining thousands of qubits in order for it to be a feasible computing system.

Speaking about working with Google and D-Wave’s technology, Martinis said, “We would like to rethink the design and make the qubits in a different way. We think there’s an opportunity in the way we build our qubits to improve the machine.”  

Quantum processor image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic