Google claims that it has designed a machine that needs only 200 seconds to solve a problem that would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to figure out.
The speed achieved by the computer represents a breakthrough called “quantum supremacy,” the company posed in a blog post.
The results announced indicate the rise of quantum computers, which can store and process much more information than their classical cousins by tapping into the powerful forces contained in the field of physics known as quantum mechanics.
Normal computers use data that exist in only one state at a time — a one, or a zero. Quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, which can simultaneously be any combination of zero and one. The difference means much faster processing speeds.
Google now will now try to build “a fault-tolerant quantum computer” as quickly as possible. The company sees applications in designing lightweight batteries for cars and airplanes, as well as new medicines.
IBM argued that Google overestimated the difficulty of the computing task. Instead of 10,000 years, the problem could be solved by a classical computer in just 2.5 days.
China is considered a leader in the development of quantum computing, which could have significant military applications. The United States is trying to catch up, sparking fears of a quantum arms race.