It’s cold outside, but not at the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Center in Perth. In fact it is a pleasant room temperature there. That’s insane, because it’s a housing quantum computer.
Most quantum computers must operate just above absolute zero in order to function. But as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in a blog postPawsey Supercomputing Research Center is now home to the world’s first room temperature quantum computer in any supercomputing facility.
The room temperature quantum computer was developed by the German-Australian startup Quantum Brilliance. As CSIRO explained, the two-qubit diamond uses quantum “accelerator” synthetic diamonds and works at room temperature in any environment. Bits, in traditional computing, refer only to binary values (0s and 1s); neither is a quantum bit (qubit) but both values at the same time.
CSIRO said the Pawsey team will test Quantum Brilliance’s diamond accelerator system by pairing it with their new supercomputer, Setonix.
Setonix, a powerful computer with the scientific name for WA’s quokka, is a mega-powerful computer system described as the fastest public supercomputer in the Southern Hemisphere. It earned Pawsey a cool $48 million.
Now for the nerdy stuff.
We all know that quantum computing promises to vastly increase the speed at which data can be processed. But what many of us might? not We know that they need a temperature of around -273°C. CSIRO explained that these extremely low temperatures reduce system noise caused by the movement of atoms and molecules. But keeping a quantum computer that cold is both energy-intensive and expensive.
The search for room temperature quantum computers has been going on for decades. But researchers are now pioneering the use of diamonds in small quantum computers, currently running on a few qubits. These diamond quantum computers can operate at room temperature.
CSIRO said this is because the ultra-hard diamond serves as a sort of quantum mechanical “dead space” where qubits go to survive for a few hundred microseconds.
‘Few-qubit’ diamond quantum computers are the only solid-state devices to show nontrivial room temperature operations to date. However, researchers ran into a roadblock when they tried to scale systems above a handful of qubits.
CSIRO said the challenge now is to improve the number of qubits and reduce the size, weight and power requirements of diamond quantum computing platforms.
Quantum Brilliance is hopeful that quantum computing with diamond will enable robust applications where classical computers are currently found – in cars, machines, satellites, autonomous systems…everywhere†