Intel quantum computer

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has released a Quantum Software Development Kit (SDK) that allows developers to emulate a quantum computer on standard computing hardware. 

Given the expense and sparsity of the real thing, Intel’s SDK looks to give developers the chance to experiment with writing software in a quantum environment that can be simulated on normal computers. 

Anne Matsuura, director of Quantum Applications & Architecture at Intel Labs, claims that the SDK will “advance the industry by creating a community of developers that will accelerate the development of applications, so they are ready when Intel’s quantum hardware becomes available.”

Quantum simulation

Quantum computers are considered to be the next frontier in computing technology. They operate based on the principles of quantum mechanics – namely that subatomic particles can be in two places at once, and can be also be connected, or entangled, in peculiar ways, even across vast distances. 

This means that in theory, they can achieve processing speeds and calculations far beyond anything that even the best supercomputers are capable of. The hope is that quantum computers will be able to solve all sorts of problems that currently exceed out grasp and greatly advance our understanding in all kinds of fields, from science and mathematics to encryption and medicine development. 

The problem, is, however, that they still in the very early stages of development, and their practical applications are therefore limited. They are also very sensitive and have issues with high error rates, although this is improving (opens in new tab).  Access to them is pretty exclusive too.

With this new SDK from Intel, developers now have the chance to play around with a virtual representation of one instead. It is written in C++ using a low-level virtual machine compiler, so developers can easily integrate quantum programs into their existing applications. 

One of the backends for the SDK it the open-source Intel Quantum Simulator (IQS), which simulates qubits, or quantum bits. On paper, it means that software written in the SDK can be ported directly to real quantum machines in future. It can already interface with Intel’s Horse Ridge 2 quantum control chip, and also with its quantum spin qubit chip expected later this year. 

The IQS supports the simulation of 32 qubit systems on a single node, or more than 40 if multiple nodes are used. Fujitsu also has its own quantum computer simulator, which can process 36 qubit quantum circuits, but needs a cluster of 64 nodes to do so. 

Intel claims that it is “committed to advancing the quantum computing field”, but given the recent revelations of its tumbling revenue (opens in new tab), we’ll have to see how far its project really goes. 

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Lewis Maddison is a Graduate Junior Writer at TechRadar Pro. His coverage ranges from online security to the usage habits of technology in both personal and professional settings.

His main areas of interest lie in technology as it relates to social and cultural issues around the world, and revels in uncovering stories that might not otherwise see the light of day.

He has a BA in Philosophy from the University of London, with a year spent studying abroad in the sunny climes of Malta.

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