Electronic computing may finally get a challenger, photonic computing. Based on photons instead of electrons, researchers have produced a new photonic chip that works on light rather than electricity. An international research team built the chip. This paves the way for the production of ultra-superfast quantum computers with capabilities far beyond today’s devices.
The director of the project, Jeremy O’Brien, of the UK’s Centre for Quantum Photonics, said that “… we can say with real confidence that, using our new technique, a quantum computer could, within five years, be performing calculations that are outside the capabilities of conventional computers.”
Apparently, one of the things that is radically different in quantum computing is using one of the tenants of quantum physics, that particles can be in multiple places at the same time. In real world physics, an object can only be in one place at one time.
By using the principles of quantum mechanics, revolutionary design will be possible. CPU’s will have new structures because they will be able to run operations trillion times faster, but not using the old designs. Memory chips will be able to store much more data than before.
Technically speaking, this is just the beginning. It will be necessary to overcome many other barriers. Re-designs in all aspects of computer technology, from motherboards, network cards, memory chips, audio and video cards will take place.
Size matters also. As we have seen in the last 2 – 3 years, many popular electronic products have gotten smaller. The iPhone, iPod, netbooks, all have changed how computer manufacturers look at dimensions. With quantum computing the challenge will not just to take advantage of the processing capabilities, but they must also mimic the size dimensions that have been brought by electronic computing. It may take decades to reach the size dimensions of the iPhone, but that will be one of the goals to reach in order to have a commercially successful product.