Quantum computer systems vs supercomputers: How do they vary?

More than the a long time, supercomputers have performed a pivotal position in pushing the frontiers of science. Before this year, Meta launched a person of the quickest AI supercomputers, the AI Investigate SuperCluster (RSC), to establish subtle AI products that can discover from trillions of illustrations navigate hundreds of diverse languages seamlessly analyse textual content, illustrations or photos, and online video collectively build AR instruments etcetera.

Nevertheless, the quest for some thing even speedier than supercomputers led to the growth of quantum computer systems. Very last yr, the University of Science and Technologies of China (USTC) released the world’s swiftest programmable superconducting quantum computer system Zuchongzhi 2.1 is a million times faster than a typical computer.

At very last year’s I/O meeting, Google unveiled a Quantum AI campus in Santa Barbara, California, full with a quantum data centre, quantum components study labs, and quantum processor chip fab amenities. The tech giant plans to construct a useful, mistake-corrected quantum laptop inside of a ten years. 

Quantum computer systems of the future will clear up advanced problems faster and extra efficiently than supercomputers. But does it signify supercomputers will turn out to be obsolete? Let us come across out.


The initial supercomputer arrived into existence in the 60s. On the other hand, the fashionable supercomputers had been formulated considerably later on in the 90s. In 1997, Intel made its initial 1 teraFLOPS supercomputer, ‘ASCI red’. Now, the Fugaku supercomputer located at RIKEN Centre for Computational Science in Japan, has thrice the processing power as the world’s 2nd-swiftest pc, IBM’s Summit. The Fugaku has clocked a most efficiency of 442,010 teraFLOPs.

Quantum computers, as a idea, ended up first proposed in the 80s by Richard Feynman and Yuri Manin. ​​In 1998, Isaac Chuang of the Los Alamos Nationwide Laboratory, Neil Gershenfeld of MIT, and Mark Kubinec of the University of California designed the initial quantum laptop (2-qubit). In 2017, IBM declared the world’s to start with quantum computer system for commercial use.

“Quantum computing has observed a significant enhance in the final 10-15 many years. Organizations worldwide are investing in several quantum technologies and producing their quantum hardware.

“Today, we are in the nisq (noisy intermediate-scale quantum) era, doing work on 100-qubit quantum programs. They may perhaps not supply fantastic effects (read noisy and faulty), but you can however work with them. On the other hand, we are even now incredibly considerably from attaining the maturity stage to have a completely fault-tolerant quantum computer,” stated Srinjoy Ganguly, senior information scientist.


Be it IBM’s Sierra or the Sunway TaihuLight, the supercomputers we see nowadays operate at a higher compute to I/O ratio. As opposed to a common pc, a supercomputer operates on various processors. The Sunway TaihuLight, a person of the prime 5 speediest supercomputers globally, has about 40,960 processing modules, each individual with 260 processor cores. 

Even though a traditional computer system functions on binary, quantum computers rely on a device of facts identified as qubits (subatomic particles these types of as electrons or photons) with significantly bigger processing electricity. The qubits only do the job in a managed quantum state–under sub-zero temperature or in ultra-significant-vacuum chambers.

Quantum computing is predicated on two phenomena: 

Superposition is the capacity of qubits to be in unique states concurrently, letting them to get the job done on a million computations at the very same time. Even so, qubits are delicate to their surroundings, so they can not maintain their condition for extensive durations. As a result, quantum computers can not be made use of to store info extensive-term.

Einstein explained quantum entanglement as spooky motion at a length. It is the means of two or far more quantum techniques to develop into entangled irrespective of how significantly apart they are. Many thanks to the correlation in between the entangled qubits, gauging the point out of a single qubit offers data about the other qubit. This distinct home accelerates the processing pace of quantum desktops. 


Supercomputers are bound by the standard rules of physics. Additional the processors, the greater the velocity. Quantum computer systems are far extra productive than supercomputers as the previous harnesses the power of quantum mechanics to carry out calculations. In 2020, China claimed to have formulated a quantum personal computer that performs computations 100 trillion situations a lot quicker than any supercomputer. 

Advancement and infrastructure charge

Constructing a supercomputer would price tag somewhere amongst USD 100 million to USD 300 million. For illustration, the Chinese Sunway TaihuLight expense about USD 273 million. Additionally, the annual routine maintenance prices drop in between USD 4 to 7 million. 

Quantum pcs are prohibitively high-priced. The components aspect by yourself will value tens of billions of dollars. The cost for each qubit has to occur down dramatically to make quantum desktops commercially practical. At existing, a solitary qubit expenditures all around USD 10,000. Also, qubits work in a quantum state possibly in a sub-zero temperature or a vacuum setting, which is quite high priced to sustain.

Nevertheless a non-quantum algorithm can be run on quantum computer systems, a quantum algorithm, these kinds of as Shor’s algorithm for factoring and Grover’s algorithm for looking an unstructured databases, doesn’t perform on a supercomputer.

Programs of Supercomputers

Both equally quantum computing and supercomputing are deployed in scenarios where by significant databases are concerned. Let’s search at a handful of use situations:

Weather conditions forecasting: The weather conditions reviews we acquire on our wise products appear from a supercomputer. Moreover predicting the likelihood of rain in your metropolis, supercomputers also forecast the path of hurricanes and assist preserve thousands of life.

Very last calendar year, the UK’s Achieved Place of work signed a 1.2 billion pound deal with Microsoft to acquire the world’s most highly effective supercomputer to assist with preparedness in the face of severe climate events.

Scientific investigation:  Supercomputers give insights into complicated fields of review. Laboratory experiments are high priced and time-consuming. That’s why it is logical to use supercomputers to simulate these laboratory experiments. For instance, various supercomputers were being leveraged across the entire world to struggle the COVID virus and establish vaccines. 

Application of quantum computers

“At current, we simply cannot accomplish operations on a qubit that lasts additional than a few microseconds. Because of this, the quantum data receives missing, generating it tough to be employed for AI or other general responsibilities,” stated Ganguly.

Scientists are operating on QRAM, a computing unit that will enable storing quantum states for several hours. Quantum pcs have purposes in fields these kinds of as:

Drug style and design & development: Quantum computers are utilised to check drug mixtures and their interactions. Customarily, medicine are created through the demo and error technique, which is high priced and risky at the exact time.

Computational chemistry: As opposed to supercomputers, quantum desktops target on the existence of equally and 1 at the same time, presenting enormous device electric power to map the molecules proficiently.

Cryptography: Quantum desktops could facilitate secure communications with the enable of quantum vital distribution. Having said that, there is also a downside.
Not long ago, US President Joe Biden signed a memorandum inquiring federal government businesses to put into practice quantum-resistant cryptography on their most vital units. The RSA encryption, the most broadly utilized sort of encryption, is centered on 2048-bit quantities. A quantum laptop could crack this encryption. As of still, we do not have a quantum personal computer with such ability.

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