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A team of Chinese researchers say they have found a “massively more efficient” and more accurate way to simulate quantum computing using traditional processors, challenging a 2019 claim by Googlescientists that they had achieved “quantum supremacy”.
China has made quantum technology a top priority – it is listed along with six other key science and tech areas in the country’s
new five-year development plan approved last week – particularly for applications like computing, ultra-secure communication networks, and precision measurement.

So-called quantum supremacy is a development milestone: quantum machines being able to perform a calculation that is beyond the reach of the most powerful conventional supercomputers.

Google in October 2019 said its Sycamore processor had become the first to achieve quantum supremacy by completing a task in three minutes and 20 seconds that would have taken the best classical supercomputer, IBM’s Summit, 10,000 years.

That claim – particularly how Google scientists arrived at the 10,000 years conclusion – has been questioned by some researchers. They argue that with alternative algorithms or settings, the supercomputer’s processing time could in theory be brought down to just days, meaning it would not be too far off what Google’s Sycamore achieved.

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