On Wednesday, Chinese scientists unveiled a new 255-photon-based quantum computer prototype named “Jiuzhang 3.0”. Quantum physicists Pan Jianwei and Lu Chaoyang, who led the research team, claim their algorithm could cement China’s position as the world leader in the field of quantum computer research and development.
The team consisting of scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China and the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Parallel Computer Engineering Technology Research Center, said the Jiuzhang 3.0 is capable of solving the highly complex Gaussian boson sampling (GBS) problems up to 10 quadrillion times faster than fastest supercomputers in the world.
Gaussian boson sampling is a test where supercomputers are given a quantum sampling task to demonstrate their computational speed in solving well-defined problems in a highly efficient manner.
Quantum computing, a computational concept first put forward by Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman in 1981, is a revolutionary mode of computing that solves mathematical problems by organizing quantum bits that adhere to the principles of quantum physics.
The computing technology is specifically designed for solving highly complex calculations like cryptography, big data optimization, weather forecasting, material design, and drug analysis, while regular computers are used for simpler calculations.
China’s “Jiuzhang 3.0” is 10 Quadrillion Times Faster Than The World’s Fastest Supercomputer
As per a press release provided to the Chinese news publication Global Times by Pan and Lu’s research team, Jiuzhang 3.0 has achieved a world record in optical quantum information technology by solving GBS mathematical problems 10 quadrillion times faster than supercomputers.
Jiuzhang, which has made China only the second country to achieve quantum supremacy, is named after the ancient Chinese mathematical concept known as the “Nine Chapters on the Art of Mathematics”.
The study published in the online journal Physical Review Letters suggests that the Jiuzhang 3.0 is one million times faster in processing Gaussian boson sampling than its predecessor Jiuzhang 2.0, which could make use of 133 detected photons.
Jiuzhang 2.0 was capable of calculating the most complex GBS problems in 1 microsecond. Meanwhile, Frontier, currently the fastest supercomputer in the world, takes more than 20 billion years to solve the same mathematical equations.
While speaking to Global Times, Professor Lu Chaoyang highlighted that the Jiuzhang 3.0 prototype is presently being used for the calculation of problems related to graph theory but the algorithm could be deployed in the field of material design in the future.
The professor at the University of Science and Technology of China said his team also made a series of innovations during their research, like the superconducting nanowire single-photon detection technology with a fiber-loop-based configuration that helped increase the number of detected photos from 133 in Jiuzhang 2.0 to 255 in Jiuzhang 3.0. He says the technology has greatly improved the complexity of photonics in quantum computing.
In 2021, China became the only country in the world to achieve a quantum computational advantage in two mainstream technical routes
The photonics quantum computing technology and the superconducting quantum computing technology – with the development of 133-detected photon-powered Jiuzhang 2.0 and the 66-qubit programmable superconducting quantum computing system called the “Zuchongzhi 2.1”.
Developers of Jiuzhang 3.0 say their findings pave the way for universal adoption of quantum computers, a feat that is estimated to be achieved in 10-15 years.
China Aims to Boost its Computing Power by 50% Before 2025
On Monday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released a target for the country’s total computing power to reach 300 EFLOPS by 2025, a 50% increase from its current capacity.
ELOPS is a unit used to measure a computer’s calculation speed where one ELOP is equal to one quintillion floating-point operations per second.
In August, the MIIT revealed that China’s computing power had reached 197 ELOPS in 2023, which is up from 180 ELOPS achieved in the previous year. Despite major leaps in advancing computing technology, China still lags behind the United States in total computing power. In 2022, the U.S. reached an estimated 200 EFLOPS and has been growing steadily this year.
According to the plan, Beijing aims to build more data centers across the country to facilitate easier access to computing power for businesses. The government also made plans to expand China’s computational infrastructure to the expansive but less populated western provinces of the country where it will establish massive data centers to power its internet.
Apple is one of the tech companies that have already set up data centers in the region to serve its Chinese customers.
The plan also focuses on improving the speed and efficiency of the computation network. According to the target aimed, transmission speeds between critical computing facilities must not allow a latency of more than 5 milliseconds by the end of next year.
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