March 1 – Chip giant Intel released a new software platform for developers to build quantum algorithms on Tuesday, local time in the United States. Eventually, these algorithms can run on the quantum computers Intel is trying to build.
The platform, called Intel Quantum SDK (Quantum Software Development Kit), currently allows some quantum algorithms to run on simulated quantum computing systems, said Anne Matsuura, director of quantum applications and architecture at Intel Research. Quantum computing is based on quantum physics and can theoretically perform calculations faster than traditional computers.
Matsuura said developers can use the time-honored programming language C++ to build quantum algorithms so that people without expertise in quantum computing can use it more easily. She added: “The Intel Quantum SDK will help programmers prepare for the future of large-scale commercial quantum computers. It will also facilitate the industry by creating a community of developers that will accelerate the development of applications.”
In addition to tech giants such as IBM and Alphabet’s Google, there is a proliferation of startups seeking to develop quantum computer hardware. But so far, no company has built a quantum device that would have a significant impact in the field. With that in mind, Intel said, using quantum computing simulators, such as the one Intel built, is critical to training developers and researching algorithms.
So far, Intel has no customer-ready quantum computers, but James Clarke, the company’s executive in charge of quantum hardware, said Intel has been working for the past six years to leverage its expertise in silicon transistor design, high-volume manufacturing and fabrication techniques to build full-stack commercial quantum computing systems based on silicon spin quantum bits.
Clark explains, “What we’re doing at Intel is getting transistors very close to each other, operating them with single electrons at low temperatures, and having those transistors act as quantum bits.” The quantum bit is the basic unit of quantum computing.
According to Anne Matsuura, “Our overall goal is to build a commercially scalable quantum computer that can solve practical problems that are difficult to solve with classical computers.”