And what exactly does that mean?
Quantum vs. classical computers
Nearly every digital device so far, from ENIAC in 1945 to Apple’s iPhone 11 in 2019, is a classical computer. Their electronics rely on logic circuits to do things like add two numbers and on memory cells to store the results.
Quantum computers are entirely different, reliant instead on the mind-boggling rules of physics that govern ultra small objects like atoms and the process is as complex as it sounds.
Where classical computers store and process data as individual bits, each a 1 or a 0, quantum computers use a different foundation, called a qubit. Each qubit can store a combination of different states of 1 and 0 at the same time through a phenomenon called superposition.
Multiple qubits can be ganged together through another quantum phenomenon called entanglement. That lets a quantum computer explore a vast number of possible solutions to a problem at the same time.
Google disclosed the results in the journal Nature yesterday (Wednesday). The achievement came after more than a decade of work at Google, including the use of its own quantum computing chip, called Sycamore.
“Our machine performed the target computation in 200 seconds, and from measurements in our experiment we determined that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output,” Google researchers said in a blog post about the work.
Quantum computing researcher Scott Aaronson likened the step to landing on the moon in terms of momentousness.
But it’s not the beginning of the end for classical computers, at least in the view of today’s quantum computing experts. They’re not likely to replace the common use of classical computers as Quantum computers are finical, exotic and have to run in an extremely controlled environment.
Atmospheric conditions which involve maintaining temperatures of just a hair’s breadth above absolute zero to minimize any internal disturbance.
So don’t expect to find a quantum computer on your desk just yet!