Researchers at Xanadu, Toronto, have smashed the existing fastest computers and algorithms in completing a difficult sampling task using a photonic quantum computer chip. It would take supercomputers and algorithms roughly 9,000 years to compute, but their quantum processor Borealis ripped through it in just 36 microseconds.
This decade is set to be the age of quantum computers. A growing number of chips and solutions are demonstrating the ability to do jobs quicker than traditional computers and even tackle tasks that are entirely beyond the capabilities of present machines. Gaussian boson sampling is one such task (GBS).
Boson sampling is a process that requires the computer to generate a sample from the probability distribution of single-photon measurements at the circuit’s output. It might sound ridiculous, as even our most powerful supercomputers can’t understand.
BGS has become a standard benchmark for calculating how much quicker a particular quantum chip is over its traditional equivalent due to a few features in BGS that make it non-discriminatory towards specific quantum setups.
Quantum computers differ from ordinary computers because they can process three units of data instead of two. Whereas traditional computers utilise binary (0 being “off” and 1 being “on”), quantum computers employ qubits (0, 1, and “both”). In addition, they are substantially faster than existing computers because they compute the probability of each answer before utilising it, giving them an edge over current machines that must run through each solution to determine if it is true or false.
Xanadu’s aptly called photonics quantum device, Borealis, transmits quantum information via successive bursts of light. It’s a beast of a chip, with up to 219 qubits, 129 of which were used in this study. According to the experts, photon-based quantum devices will be the most likely architecture to be used in the future.
The Borealis device is unique in that each quantum gate is programmable; while other processors have used this functionality, they have yet to attain quantum supremacy.
The researchers indicated that this work represents a significant step forward in developing quantum devices. “This work is a critical milestone on the path to a practical quantum computer, validating key technological features of photonics as a platform for this goal,” write the authors.
The study was published in the journal Nature.