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Putting the Meltdown drama behind it, Intel is diving headfirst into the future of processing with the launch of its first “neuromorphic” (read: AI) and the 49-qubit quantum chip. And in case you were wondering, it didn’t apologize for the problem.

“Neuromorphic” Loihi chip

Intel is taking a major step forward with the launch of a self-learning chip today. The chip is “neuromorphic” in that it now fully functions in the same way as a human brain does. which is a significant step forward for AI.

Called Loihi, Intel says the chip will allow things such as recognizing people through webcams, regulate traffic flows based on congestion, and more. It implements neural networks simulating a brain directly into its architecture, which will allow it to learn information even faster, without relying on huge amounts of data.

Loihi is also incredibly power-efficient, using just 1/1000th the power of any other processor since it is highly-specialized in its functioning. Currently, its functioning is limited to object-recognition, but the future for a chip like this is boundless. The first applications for Loihi will come in robotics and self-driving cars.

49-qubit quantum chip

Intel also announced its first 49 qubit Tangle Lake chip. While 49 quantum bits may not sound much, it is a major milestone for quantum computing, where the primary challenge is the molecule stability itself, requiring a temperature of 20 millikelvin to operate.

Another problem is scalability which Intel claims to have solved with Tangle Lake.

The chip is around the size of a quarter, and is developed in co-operation with its dedicated Netherlands-based QuTech lab. Furthermore, Intel is also investing in different setups to reach a final, optimum solution for quantum computing.

For example, alongside superconducting, it is also researching a spin qubit-based architecture, which it has already learned how to fabricate on a 300nm chip (which may not sound revolutionary but that’s beside the point).

Distant Possibility

With this news, Intel now stands right next to companies such as IBM (which is bringing its own 50-qubit chip to CES) in quantum computing. Quantum computing is all the craze as unlike a normal bit, qubits can store information in both zeroes and ones at the same time, which opens up a new horizon in terms of speed.

The news is still a minor step in the overall picture of quantum computing, as Dr. Michael Mayberry of Intel Labs still predicts a time period of “five to seven years” before the project becomes commercially viable. It would require around a million qubits’ worth of data in a single place, which is almost a foreign idea as of now, though, one which is among the most-exciting and anticipated in all of tech.

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