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Chinese quantum computer ‘sets record’ in processing test

“Our experimental results of random quantum circuit … on Zuchongzhi quantum processor established a new record to challenge the classical computing capability,” they said in the paper.

“We also expect this large-scale, high-performance quantum processor could enable us to pursue valuable [noisy intermediate-scale quantum] applications beyond classical computers in the near future.”

The researchers also compared Zuchongzhi’s task with the one previously performed by Sycamore.

“The computational cost of the classical simulation of this task is estimated to be two to three orders of magnitude higher than the previous work on 53-qubit Sycamore processor,” they said, referring to the amount of time required to complete an operation.

In 2019, Google said in the journal Nature that Sycamore took about 200 seconds to sample one instance of a quantum circuit a million times, whereas the world’s fastest supercomputer would need about 10,000 years to produce similar output.

The Chinese superconducting quantum processor contains 66 qubits – the basic unit of quantum information – and is named after Zu Chongzhi, a fifth-century Chinese mathematician and astronomer.

Using rudimentary counting sticks, Zu pinned down pi to seven decimal places, an accuracy that was unsurpassed globally for more than 800 years.

More than 50 scientists are involved with the quantum project and some are affiliated with institutes including the Chinese Academy of Sciences and quantum information technology developer QuantumCTek.

Earlier this year, a group of researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China designed and made the computer prototype of Zuchongzhi with 62 functional qubits, the largest number in the world, state broadcaster CGTN reported.

In a report in the journal Science in May, the team, also led by Pan, said the work was “a milestone in the field, bringing future larger-scale quantum applications closer to realisation for noisy intermediate-scale quantum processors”.