Intel today unveiled the Horse Ridge II controller at a virtual event, dubbed the move towards scalable quantum computing. The first version of this cryogenic SoC was introduced exactly one year ago. The new development is said to make building multi-qubit quantum computers even easier, cheaper, and more manageable.
The Horse Ridge II controller, like its predecessor, is manufactured using Intel’s cost-effective 22nm FinFET (22FFL) process. Its purpose is to place the electronic circuits that control the qubits as close as possible to the qubits themselves. To do this, the controller must remain operational at the same low temperatures at which the qubits work. Simply put, its place is in a refrigerator with qubits, where the operating temperature tends to absolute zero.
Today, cryogenic qubit quantum systems operate at temperatures as low as a fraction of a Kelvin. Therefore, all the control electronics are located outside the cryogenic system, and hundreds or more coaxial cables go inside the refrigerator, which is very difficult to scale. Installing a qubit controller inside a refrigerator is a major challenge for Intel and other researchers in the near future. Her solution is close, but not today.
The Horse Ridge II controller operates at a temperature of at least 4 K (-269.15 ° C). But this is not critical for Intel, the company is developing the so-called spin qubits – electrons trapped in traps that can already operate at a temperature of 1.6 K. Therefore, it is specifically Intel’s task to bring the operating temperatures of spin qubits and the Horse Ridge X controllers that control them closer to the moment, when they can be placed in a common refrigerator.
The Horse Ridge II controller is an improved and enhanced version of the Horse Ridge controller. “Horse Ridge II supports advanced features and higher levels of integration for elegantly handling a quantum system. New features include the ability to manipulate and read qubit states as well as control potential [управлять напряжением] several gates needed to entangle several qubits “, – said in a press release of the company.
The Horse Ridge controller was able to control the state of cryogenic qubits using radio frequency pulses that it generated (128 qubits were controlled by one controller). Horse Ridge II added two more features to these capabilities. First, it is the ability to read the current state of the qubit, which is detected with a low delay right on the chip without storing large amounts of data, which saves memory and energy.
Second, the Horse Ridge II controller implements “multi-valve pulsation” while simultaneously driving multiple cryogenic gates, which provides both readout of multiple qubits at once and entanglement of this set.
The company did not provide further details about the Horse Ridge II controller. The full report is expected at the next ISSCC conference in February 2021.
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