Eagle processor: what the IBM quantum computer is like and what it is for

“A key milestone on the path to practical quantum computing.”

This is how the company IBM, one of the oldest computer manufacturers, presented on Tuesday its new advanced quantum processor called Eagle.

Computers with these processors could revolutionize computing, by taking advantage of the strange world of quantum physics, to solve problems that today’s most advanced computers cannot handle.

They could be used for a wide range of technological developments, from new materials and medicines until the artificial intelligence.

But so far the obstacles in building practical versions they have kept quantum computers confined to the laboratory.

And an expert in quantum computing assures that IBM You need to publish more details about Eagle to show if it represents a significant advance.

The quantum world

Quantum computers take advantage of the strange way that matter behaves on very small scales.

In classical computers, the unit of information is called a “bit” and can have a value of one or zero. But its equivalent in a quantum system, the “Qubit” (or quantum bit), can be one and zero at the same time.

This is the concept of superposition, where something can exist in multiple states at once.

To harness its power, multiple qubits must be linked, a process called entanglement. And with each additional qubit added, hethe computational power of the processor doubles.

For solving complex problems, Like figuring out how proteins fold in drug development, or modeling physical processes within complex atoms, many qubits are needed.

To bring quantum computing to a practical use, manufacturers must find an easy way to create processors with a large number of qubits (and that are stable).

This would make it possible to avoid the calculation errors that conventional computers present, even the most powerful of today.

The new IBM-designed processor has 127 qubits, double that of the previous version, Hummingbird (65 qubits) presented in 2020, and to the Falcon (27 qubits) of 2019. It plans to hit 1,121 qubits in the 2023 Condor model.

“The arrival of the Eagle processor is an important step towards the day when quantum computers can surpass classical computers in useful applications,” said IBM Senior Vice President and Research Director Darío Gil.

“Quantum computing has the power to transform almost all sectors and help us address the greatest problems of our time, ”he said.

Quantum supremacy

An important step is to demonstrate what has been called “Quantum supremacy”, for which there are several competitors.

In 2019, Google said his quantum processor 53-qubit Sycamore it had for the first time outperformed a conventional computer on a particular task.

Google researchers published the results in the prestigious academic journal Nature.

At the time, IBM scientists they questioned some of Google’s figures and its definition of quantum supremacy.

Eagle also faces skepticism.

The teacher Scott Aaronson, University of Texas at Austin, said wait “See the real details” that can expose its true scope.

On his blog, the quantum computing expert added that the information published so far by IBM he lacked the key metrics he used to assess his progress.

In 2016, IBM was the first company to put quantum computing in the cloud, opening up access to machines for more users.