Google’s Quantum AI Campus Envisions Commercial System

Google distinguished scientist Hartmut Neven revealed that, by 2029, the company will build a commercially useable quantum computer for flawless large-scale enterprise and scientific calculations. Google revealed it has expanded a campus in Santa Barbara, California focused on the project. Neven, who oversees the Quantum AI program, added that the company is at an “inflection point.” Google has been investing in the quantum computing effort for several years, as have IBM, D-Wave Systems and Honeywell International.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “IBM and others have recently announced technological developments and planned milestones related to quantum computing within the next few years.” At IBM Research, for example, senior vice president and director Dr. Dario Gil “said 2023 would be an inflection point in that the errors of quantum computers would continue to decrease exponentially through software, as opposed to just hardware.”

Visa, JPMorgan Chase and Volkswagen are among the companies testing early-stage quantum computing.

Neven said that, “Google is interested in many potential uses for the technology, such as building more energy-efficient batteries, creating a new process of making fertilizer that emits less carbon dioxide and speeding up training for machine-learning, a branch of artificial intelligence.”

Currently, Google’s quantum systems have fewer than 100 qubits, and the commercial system it envisions would need one million qubits to perform reliable calculations without errors. To get there, “Google will need to work on lengthening the time that the qubits remain in their quantum state, because they are susceptible to disturbances in temperature, frequency and motion,” which can negatively impact accuracy or prevent the operation from being completed.

According to Google quantum-computing research scientist Erik Lucero, who led the design and construction of the new Quantum AI campus, it includes “a quantum-data center, research labs and chip-fabrication facilities spanning several buildings.”

Gartner vice president and analyst Chirag Dekate reported that, “the pace of innovation in quantum computing over the last five years exceeds that of the past three decades.” Gartner noted that, “by 2025, nearly 40 percent of large companies are expected to create quantum-computing initiatives.”

Research and Markets speculates that “the global market for quantum-computing hardware will exceed $7.1 billion by 2026.” Until now, added Dekate, “Google has lagged behind others such as IBM and D-Wave in commercializing access to experimental quantum-computing machines.”

“That’s going to be the biggest test for Google, is how they engage enterprise audiences,” he added.

On its blog, Google reports that quantum computing will allow the creation of better batteries, fertilizer that doesn’t contribute to global carbon emissions and more targeted medicines. “We need to understand and design molecules better … but you can’t simulate molecules very well using classical computers,” it suggests.

“This is where quantum computers come in,” adding that qubits “which can be entangled in a complex superposition of states, naturally [mirror] the complexity of molecules in the real world.” To get there, it says, “we need to show we can encode one logical qubit — with 1,000 physical qubits … to form a long-lived nearly perfect qubit.”