Welcome to the age of quantum computing
Written by Leithland Thomas
Director, Application Arcitecture at Fundserv Inc.
Every so often we have a leap in technology that fundamentally propels our understanding of the world around us. One such recent momentous leap is in quantum computing – which represents a technological advancement on the scale of the invention of electricity.
Since the ‘60’s Moore’s law has predicted that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would double about every 24 months. A transistor is a basic component that allows information to flow through a computer circuit. The information that flows through the transistors are represented as 1’s and 0’s. Transistors are combined together to form logic gates that perform basic functions, the gates are then combined together to do more complex processing. The more transistors on a circuit, the more powerful the circuit. Thus increasing the amount of transistors leads to a sustained increase in computer performance. In order to sustain this sort of performance gains, computer chip makers have had to continually shrink the size and number of the transistors on a computer chip.
The Intel® 8088 chip, introduced in 1979 contained 29,000 transistors. The latest Intel® computer chips are well in excess of several billion transistors which is an incredible feat of engineering, and miniaturization. Modern transistors are approaching nano size, as small as 7 nanometer. 1 nanometer is equivalent to 1/1,000,000,000th of a meter. To put this in perspective, the ebolavirus is roughly 80 nanometer, perhaps a better reference to provide scale is the thickness of a single human hair which is about 80,000 – 100,000 nanometer thick.