The new chip was created in Intel's D1D Fab in Oregon using the same silicon manufacturing techniques that the company uses for its traditional computer chips. The chip is smaller than a pencil's eraser (image) and, says the company, it is the tiniest quantum computing chip the company has made to date.
Using Intel's spin qubit quantum chip technology, the chip does not use transistors but qubits - short for "quantum bits" - that can hold a single electron. The behavior of that single electron, which can be in multiple spin states simultaneously, offers vastly greater computing power than today's transistors, says the company, and is the basis of quantum computing.
The new spin qubit chip runs at the extremely low temperatures required for quantum computing, in this case about 460 degrees below zero Fahrenheit – or about 250 times colder than space. Its qubits, says the company, are extraordinarily small – about 50 nanometers across and visible only under an electron microscope. About 1,500 qubits could fit across the diameter of a single human hair.
According to the company, this means the design for new Intel spin qubit chips could be dramatically scaled up. Future quantum computers will contain thousands or even millions of qubits, and will be vastly more powerful than today's fastest supercomputers, the company says.