In a recent announcement, Microsoft unveiled its roadmap to building a quantum supercomputer, marking a significant stride in the company’s years-long research into topological qubits. According to Microsoft’s VP of advanced quantum development, Krysta Svore, the company believes that it can transition from the research breakthrough to a fully functional quantum supercomputer in less than a decade.
“We think about our roadmap and the time to the quantum supercomputer in terms of years rather than decades,” said Svore in an interview with TechCrunch.
Microsoft’s aggressive roadmap is a testament to the company’s commitment to quantum computing. While waiting for its topological qubits to become a reality, Microsoft has advanced its research into several areas of quantum computing, including control mechanisms, noise reduction, and deployment among others.
“Today, we’re really at this foundational implementation level,” Svore told TechCrunch. “We have noisy intermediate-scale quantum machines. They’re built around physical qubits and they’re not yet reliable enough to do something practical and advantageous in terms of something useful. For science or for the commercial industry. The next level we need to get to as an industry is the resilient level. We need to be able to operate not just with physical qubits but we need to take those physical qubits and put them into an error-correcting code and use them as a unit to serve as a logical qubit”.
To achieve its goal, Microsoft needs to scale the number of qubits it can deploy, ensure these qubits are resilient and able to be used for complex calculations, and find ways to reduce the error rate. The company aims to reach a rate of one million quantum operations per second, with a failure rate of one per trillion operations.
Microsoft’s journey in building the world’s first quantum supercomputer is not an easy one. The company has been deemed a high-risk, high-reward venture in the quantum computing realm. Microsoft is home to some of the most talented quantum researchers in the world, and their breakthrough in topological qubits speaks volumes about their capabilities.
Microsoft faces stiff competition from other industry players like IBM, Quantinuum, and Intel who have already established their footholds in the industry. IBM’s own roadmap also leaves space for it to reach its quantum supercomputer around the same time as Microsoft.
On the path to building a quantum supercomputer, Microsoft is likely to encounter roadblocks as it navigates the gap between on-paper specifications and real-world applications. However, being a two-trillion-dollar company, Microsoft has the resources to iron out the wrinkles and address challenges that may arise.
As the next step in its roadmap, Microsoft is focusing on building hardware-protected qubits. These qubits are expected to be less than 10 nm in size each and will be able to perform one qubit operation in less than a microsecond.