Chinese Quantum Supremacy: A Major Breakthrough in Photonic Quantum Computers

A recent trial of a photonic quantum computer by Chinese researchers marked the success of the country in this technological race, rendering the country as the leader in the technology. Although this Jiuzhang’s computing has an edge over traditional supercomputers in just one dimension it is a giant leap in the future of computing and the technology and it can be used in gaining a competitive advantage in machine learning and quantum chemistry etc. Indeed this Chinese led development will have far-reaching implications for the tech world because of fast computing speed as the newly built machine can answer in less than 200 seconds whereas conventional supercomputers can take years for the same operation.

Calling it the “Jiuzhang’s Quantum Computing System,” researchers claim that the system is able to apply large-scale GBS 100 trillion times faster than the world’s fastest existing supercomputer. The research team also asserted that this new prototype of Quantum Computer is able to process 10 billion times faster than the 53-qubit quantum computer developed by Google.

A research paper published in Science (journal) by the Chinese researchers, especially the leading Chinese quantum physicist Pan Jianwei, showed that while conducting Gaussian boson sampling, a mean for calculating the output of a straight-line optical circuit that has multiple inputs and outputs, the quantum computer handled the operations efficiently and does not bog down like any other supercomputer. Pan’s team has been working on this project from the last 20 years and with this breakthrough, they will be able to overcome several scientific quandaries such as the development of a high-quality photon source. Pan said that “A high-quality photon source needs to ‘release’ just one photon each time, and each photon needs to be exactly the same, which is quite a challenge. For example, it is easy for us to have one sip of water each time, but it is difficult to drink just a water molecule each time.”

A Chinese professor, Lu Chaoyang said that “Quantum computational advantage is like a threshold, it means that, when a new quantum computer prototype’s capacity surpasses that of the strongest traditional computer in handling a particular task, it proves that it will possibly make breakthroughs in multiple other areas.”

Joining Google and IBM in the race of quantum computing, Chinese are now also moving towards a new era of computing and security. This development raises security concerns as well because with the help of fast-paced computing power will affect the prevalent cryptography methods which are used to protect the data in transit. According to security analyst Digicert, the security teams will have to face a new threat in 2022 due to advancements in quantum computing. Although this Chinese system is not intended to decrypt the RSA cryptography it is a step towards such technology and it is just a matter of time when China will be able to do so.

According to the renowned National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) of the US, currently, there is not any standard for the Quantum Cryptography but they will soon, most probably in 2022, will develop something substantial to impede the looming threat from the quantum computers.

According to John Prisco from Safe Quantum Inc., “Quantum literacy must improve in government agencies and corporations before a quantum prime computer exists. Creating a quantum-safe environment for data security will not occur overnight”. He added that, with this advancement in quantum computing,” there is no time to waste, because of other classical security problems like harvesting attacks which occur today, a harvesting attack is the theft of encrypted data and the RSA encryption key used to encrypt that data. While the key cannot be hacked today with the currently available quantum computer, an adversary can steal the data and the key, store it inexpensively in memory, and decrypt the info when they have access to a more powerful quantum computer that can break the key.”

In lieu of this development, not only governments but the private entities should also expedite their working to develop solutions for overcoming the threats and developing standards for the post-quantum world. In the coming times, surely there will be quantum-safe, crypto-agile solutions and similar things to keep us safe from the threat but to evade the threat all security stakeholders should adopt to multi-layered approach and post-quantum cryptography algorithms.

The Chinese government had invested $10 billion for Quantum computing, especially through National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences. The US security administration has also provided funds of $1 billion for research of AI and Quantum information in 2020 and also credited the success of Google as a leap in the US science and technology.






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