Intel Achieves Milestone in Quantum Practicality with ‘Horse Ridge’

Intel Labs has unveiled what it believes to be a first-of-its-kind cryogenic control chip — code-named “Horse Ridge” — that is aimed at speeding up the development of full-stack quantum computing systems.

According to Intel, Horse Ridge will enable control of multiple quantum bits (qubits) and set a clear path toward scaling larger systems — a major milestone on the path to quantum practicality.

Developed together with Intel’s research collaborators at QuTech, a partnership between TU Delft and TNO (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research), Horse Ridge is fabricated using Intel’s 22nm FinFET Low Power (22FFL) technology. In-house fabrication of these control chips at Intel will dramatically accelerate the company’s ability to design, test and optimize a commercially viable quantum computer.

Quantum computers promise the potential to tackle problems that conventional computers can’t handle by leveraging a phenomena of quantum physics that allows qubits to exist in multiple states simultaneously. As a result, qubits can conduct a large number of calculations at the same time — dramatically speeding up complex problem-solving.

“While there has been a lot of emphasis on the qubits themselves, the ability to control many qubits at the same time had been a challenge for the industry," said Jim Clarke, Intel’s director of Quantum Hardware. "Intel recognized that quantum controls were an essential piece of the puzzle we needed to solve in order to develop a large-scale commercial quantum system. That’s why we are investing in quantum error correction and controls. With Horse Ridge, Intel has developed a scalable control system that will allow us to significantly speed up testing and realize the potential of quantum computing.”

Intel says that in the race to realize the potential of quantum computers, researchers have largely focused extensively on qubit fabrication, building test chips that demonstrate the exponential power of a small number of qubits operating in superposition.

However, it says, in early quantum hardware developments — including design, testing and characterization of Intel’s silicon spin qubit and superconducting qubit systems — it has identified a major bottleneck toward realizing commercial-scale quantum computing: interconnects and control electronics.

With Horse Ridge, Intel says it is introducing an elegant solution that will enable the company to control multiple qubits and set a clear path toward scaling future systems to larger qubit counts — a major milestone on the path to quantum practicality.

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