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Here’s What the Inside of a 'Quantum Computer' Looks Like

It’s complicated-looking.
May 14, 2015, 3:41pm

Clarification/correction: The 'quantumness' of D-Wave's computer is a heavily contested feature. The consensus, which is supported by experimental evidence, is that, while the machine may demonstrate quantum behavior, it hasn't demonstrated any associated speed-up.

The insides of a quantum computer resemble nothing like your run-of-the-mill Hewlett Packard.

Murray Thom, the director of professional services at computer maker D-Wave, explains that these massive devices are delicate and are "easily disturbed." So, to see the insides of one, he's stripped off the coverings to show the internals. One of the most striking differences is that compared to traditional supercomputers, the quantum computer only has one chip compared to thousands in the former.

This video specifically looks at its cooling system. There's three parts that handles a variety of temperatures from 300 kelvin (80 degrees Fahrenheit) to .01 kelvin, or roughly one hundred times cooler than interstellar space. Brr.

"This whole system is designed to sustain those low temperatures in a continuous cycle," explains Thom. He adds that the wires can't cool themselves so it's equipped with a "custom filter bank" to cool down the electrons.

Watch the video above to hear Thom explain the intricacies of cooling down a quantum computer.