Intel announces Horse Ridge cryogenic control chip for quantum computing

At this week’s International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco, Intel and QuTech announced the Horse Ridge cryogenic control chip for quantum computing. As part of a partnership between TUDelft and TNO, the Dutch applied science research organization, QuTech aims to accelerate the development of a full stack of quantum computing systems. The first public lying design of horse Ridge technology marks a milestone in the development of commercially viable quantum computing.

Intel announces Horse Ridge cryogenic control chip for quantum computing

Stefano Pellerano, Chief Engineer at Intel Labs, showcases the Horse Ridge chip. Pictured: Intel, via Venture Beat

In a paper, Intel Labs and QuTech researchers outline the technical capabilities of the new cryogenic quantum control chip.

For good operation at low temperatures, it has specially designed a scalable on-chip system (SoC) to simplify the control electronics and interconnections required to extend and operate large quantum computing systems.

Horse Ridge is known to address the basic challenges of building quantum systems that prove quantum utility — scalability, flexibility, and fidelity.

The challenge of quantum computing today is that it can only really work at temperatures close to freezing, but Intel is trying to change that.

The control chip is an important step towards control at very low temperatures, as it adapts to a refrigerator with a quantum computer and avoids the hassle of having to handle hundreds of cables.

Currently, quantum researchers are using small custom design systems based on complex controland and interconnect mechanisms to handle small amounts of qubits, but Intel’s Horse Ridge has dramatically addressed this complexity.

Jim Clarke, director of quantum hardware at Intel Labs, said in a statement that to form a practical quantum computing system, it would need to expand qubits to thousands.

Intel is pushing quantum computing toward real business, and it’s making continuous progress.

Intel announces Horse Ridge cryogenic control chip for quantum computing

In the July 2018 file photo, Jim Clarke, head of Intel’s quantum hardware division, holds a test chip with 49 qubits in hand at the QuTech Quantum Computing Laboratory at Delft University of Technology. (Photo from: Tim Herman / Intel)

Finally, Intel highlights the details of three key technologies in its ISSCC paper: scalability, fidelity, and flexibility.

(1) Scalability: The integrated SoC design features 22nm FinFET low-power CMOS technology that integrates four radio frequency (RF) channels into a single device.

With ‘frequency-sharing’ technology, up to 32 qubits can be controlled per channel. This technology divides the total available bandwidth into a series of non-overlapping bands, each of which can carry a separate signal.

Through these four channels, Horse Ridge allows up to 128 qubits to be controlled by a single device, significantly reducing the number of cables and rack instruments previously required.

(2) Fidelity: The increase in the number of qubits will cause other problems related to the capacity and operation of quantum systems, especially the decline in fidelity and performance.

During the development of Horse Ridge, Intel optimized multiplexing technology to enable the system to scale and reduce errors caused by ‘phase shift’.

This occurs when many qubits are controlled at different frequencies, leading to crosstalk between qubits.

Engineers can adjust the various frequencies used by the chip with high precision, enabling the quantum system to adapt and automatically correct the phase shift when multiple qubits are controlled by the same RF line, thus improving the fidelity of the quantum bit door.

(3) Flexibility: Horse Ridge is capable of covering a fairly wide frequency range to control superconducting qubits and spin qubits.

Transmon typically runs around 6-7 GHz and Spin Qubits around 13-20 GHz.

Intel is studying spin-on qubits that can operate at 1 Kelvin temperature, paving the way for the integration of silicon spin qubit devices and horse Ridge’s cryogenic control components.

As a result, the company was able to create a unique solution that incorporated qubits and related controls into a streamlined package.

Intel and QuTech are understood to be planning to present papers on the subject at the ISSCC meeting tuesday afternoon (13:30 P.M. Pacific time).