Intel Says that Silicon-based Qubits are the Way of the Future, But It’s Leaving Its Options Open

Intel has been pursuing quantum computing technology since at least 2018, later than leaders in the sector like IBM, but long enough for it to amass a sizable patent portfolio in the sector. Intel’s first foray into quantum computing was a superconducting quantum computer, called Tangle Lake. However, since 2018, Intel has also been clear that it thinks silicon-based qubit technology, such as quantum dot qubits, is the key to scaling quantum computers to a workable size. In April 2020, Intel showed off that its quantum dot qubit technology could work in “hot” conditions, making the technology more manageable than the more popular superconductor technology. 

Our Quantum Computing Patent Radian® tells a nuanced story about Intel’s quantum computing research. As can immediately be seen, Intel has had the most activity recently in quantum dot technology. However, it has still been pursuing superconducting technology as recently as early 2021. Going back a bit further shows that Intel has flirted with the idea of other spin-based qubits, including donor-based qubits and vacancy-based qubits. This data shows an unusual approach for Intel in the sector relative to its competitors, who typically choose one type of qubit and stick to it (with the exception of IBM’s more recent ventures into topological qubit technology). This may signal that Intel isn’t entirely confident in its vision and is looking to hedge its bets, or it could suggest that Intel wants to make quantum computers having multiple types of qubits. Either way, based on our data, it is worthwhile for competitors in this space to pay attention to whether Intel continues to make strides in the next few years, or news declines, signalling an unexpected technological hurdle. 

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