Inside the race to build the best quantum computer on Earth


IBM thinks quantum supremacy is not the milestone we should care about.

Google’s most advanced computer isn’t at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, nor anywhere in the febrile sprawl of Silicon Valley. It’s a few hours’ drive south in Santa Barbara, in a flat, soulless office park inhabited mostly by technology firms you’ve never heard of.

An open-plan office holds several dozen desks. There’s an indoor bicycle rack and designated “surfboard parking,” with boards resting on brackets that jut out from the wall. Wide double doors lead into a lab the size of a large classroom. There, amidst computer racks and jumbles of instrumentation, a handful of cylindrical vessels—each a little bigger than an oil drum—hang from vibration-damping rigs like enormous steel pupae.

On one of them, the outer vessel has been removed to expose a multi-tiered tangle of steel and brass innards known as “the chandelier.” It’s basically a supercharged refrigerator that gets colder with each layer down. At the bottom, kept in a vacuum a hair’s breadth above absolute zero, is what looks to the naked eye like an ordinary silicon chip. But rather than transistors, it’s etched with tiny superconducting circuits that, at these low temperatures, behave as if they were single atoms obeying the laws of quantum physics. Each one is a quantum bit, or qubit—the basic information–storage unit of a quantum computer.

Late last October, Google announced that one of those chips, called Sycamore, had become the first to demonstrate “quantum supremacy” by performing a task that would be practically impossible on a classical machine. With just 53 qubits, Sycamore had completed a calculation in a few minutes that, according to Google, would have taken the world’s most powerful existing supercomputer, Summit, 10,000 years. Google touted this as a major breakthrough, comparing it to the launch of Sputnik or the first flight by the Wright brothers—the threshold of a new era of machines that would make today’s mightiest computer look like an abacus.

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Quantum states in conventional electronics may beat end of Moore’s law


Graduate students Kevin Miao, Chris Anderson, and Alexandre Bourassa monitor quantum experiments at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

Scientists at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering have found a way to produce quantum states in ordinary, everyday electronics. By harnessing the properties of quantum mechanics without exotic materials or equipment, this raises the possibility that quantum information technologies can be created using current devices.

For decades, the computer industry has benefited from Moore’s law, which is a rule of thumb that predicts that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double about every two years. As this has held up, computers have gone from giant machines that were part of the buildings that housed them to tiny devices that can fit on a thumbnail, yet can outperform any supercomputer from previous generations.

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How the end of Moore’s Law will usher in a new era in computing


Will the next evolution of technology super power our computers?

In 1965 Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, predicted that the number of components that could fit on a microchip would double every year for the next decade.

Moore revised his prediction in 1975 to a doubling of components every two years – a prophecy that remained true for another four decades.

The ramifications on the world of technology and, by extension, society itself of what is now known as “Moore’s Law” have proven immeasurable.

The doubling of transistors – semi-conductor devices that switch electronic signals and power – meant that technology would become exponentially more powerful, smaller and cheaper.

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The world’s most advanced nanotube computer may keep Moore’s Law alive


Up close photograph of nanotube

 MIT researchers have found new ways to cure headaches in manufacturing carbon nanotube processors, which are faster and less power hungry than silicon chips.

A team of academics at MIT has unveiled the world’s most advanced chip yet that’s made from carbon nanotubes—cylinders with walls the width of a single carbon atom. The new microprocessor, which is capable of running a conventional software program, could be an important milestone on the road to finding silicon alternatives.

The electronics industry is struggling with a slowdown in Moore’s Law, which holds that the number of transistors that can be packed on a silicon processor doubles roughly every couple of years. This trend is facing its physical limits: as the sizes of the devices shrink to a few atoms, electrical current is starting to leak from the metallic channels that shuttle it through transistors. The heat that’s released saps semiconductors’ energy efficiency—and may even cause them to fail.

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‘Moore’s Law is dead’: Three predictions about the computers of tomorrow


Experts from chip designer Arm on how chip design will evolve to ensure performance keeps advancing.

“Moore’s Law is dead. Moore’s Law is over.”

So says Mike Muller, chief technology officer at chip designer Arm, the Japanese-owned company whose processor cores are found inside nearly all mobile phones.

Given Moore’s Law has been the engine driving the breakneck pace at which computers have advanced over the past 50 years this statement might seem worrying.

But Muller is more sanguine.

“On one level it’s true, but I’d say, certainly from my perspective and Arm’s perspective, we don’t care,” he said, speaking at the Arm Research Summit 2018.

Muller and his colleagues have good reasons for their indifference to the end of Moore’s Law, the prediction that the number of transistors on computer processors will double every two years.

For one, the bulk of Arm-based processors are sold into the embedded computing market, where there is still plenty of scope for transistors to get smaller and chips to get faster.

But more importantly, Arm believes the regular boosts to computing performance that used to come from Moore’s Law will continue, and will instead stem from changes to how chips are designed.

Here are three ways that Arm expects processor design will evolve and advance.

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Futurists predict what the world of tomorrow will look like


We have seen tremendous changes in technology in the short span of two years. IQ by Intel is now casting their gaze toward the future. It has a lot to do with Moore’s Law, an observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. It states that every two years the number of transistors that can fit on a microchip will double, leading to an exponential rise in computing power and the many groundbreaking advances that derive from it.



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End of Moore’s Law by early 2020’s: It’s not just about physics

Moore’s Law — the ability to pack twice as many transistors on the same sliver of silicon every two years — will come to an end as soon as 2020 at the 7nm node says Robert Colwell who now works for DARPA (trying to pick after CMOS technology) and was Intel’s chief chip architect from 1990 to 2001.


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Why computing will never be limited by Moore’s Law

 Silicon-based transistors must be powered all the time.

Experts predict that in less than 20 years we will reach the physical limit of how much processing capability can be squeezed out of silicon-based processors in the heart of our computing devices. But a recent scientific finding that could completely change the way we build computing devices may simply allow engineers to sidestep any obstacles.



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DNA sequencing is improving faster than Moore’s law


The cost of sequencing genomes has declined 50% faster per year than the cost of computers, since 2007. Declining sequencing costs have been due to a combination of Moore’s law and massive scaleups. An author and an expert on the life sciences industry, Juan Enriquez, runs a venture capital fund that invests in life science startups that could produce useful products and treatments within the next five years.  He also engages in more long-term forecasting. In an interview for Next Big Future, Enriquez discusses the exponential rate of change for biotechnology with Sander Olson. Enrique also discusses why he believes that the changes wrought by the biosciences during the next three decades could surpass the industrial revolution in importance. (video)


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Single-atom transistor is end of Moore’s Law

single atom 3456

A controllable transistor engineered from a single phosphorus atom shown here in the center of an image from a computer model, sits in a channel in a silicon crystal.

The smallest transistor ever built — in fact, the smallest transistor that can be built — has been created using a single phosphorus atom by an international team of researchers at the University of New South Wales, Purdue University and the University of Melbourne.

The single-atom device was described Sunday (Feb. 19) in a paper in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Michelle Simmons, group leader and director of the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication at the University of New South Wales, says the development is less about improving current technology than building future tech…

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Haitz’s Law: Moore’s Law for LED lightbulbs


Haitz Law in action over the past decades.

Just like Moore’s Law has been predicting improvements in the semiconductors used to make computer processors for decades, Haitz’s Law (see above) predicts an exponential improvement in the semiconductors used in LED technology. The beauty is that we’re almost there – see my LED reviews – so for LEDs to overtake other lighting technologies and become the dominant way we produce light, Haitz’s Law only has to hold for a little while longer, not decades…

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