Information and energy : a little thought on quantum computing

By | 11/04/2010

Having heard Jean-Michel Billaut‘s conference yesterday on skype, I was interested by his thought about the four coming convergent ruptures : nanotechnology, synthetic biology, humanoid robots, and Green techs.

I can understand about the first three, but I was more thinking about the fourth one. The question I had in mind was : can we have the same processing power, with less power. It appears now that the limitation to Moore’s law is heat. The consequence of this is that a server in a server farms requires around 300 Watts to work.

This goes back also to the relationship between thermal entropy, and information entropy, and a little paradox: Maxwell’s demon. The paradox is simple : a little demon opens or closes a door between two gas containers. If the molecule comes from the right, he opens the door. If it comes from the left, he closes the door. The energy balance is equilibrated, but at the end there is more gas in a bottle than another one. Let me remind that the paradox was solved by one of the most famous French scientist, Brillouin, who showed that, in order to check if an atom comes from left or right, he needs energy to acquire the information. This is the most simple, and brilliant demonstration of the equivalence between both entropies.

Back to processor’s temperature : there are some research about decreasing this, one field of research being by electron spin carrying 0 and 1 rather than a voltage. This technology leads directly to quantum computing.

Quantum computing may be the next big rupture., an idea which seems to become more and more close to reality. The leading company, D-Wave, is building a Quantum processor. The current state of art is a processor at 10 Quantum bits, (Qubits), and they plan to go to 128. The technology is promising enough to have Google working on the topic, using a D-Wave computer.

Can we imagine a worlds with quantum computers, who are able to solve non polynomial problems in a polynomial time, with little energy ? Well, then, human being low processing capacity is totally out of the scope. The only remaining capacity would perhaps be: can we make a computer laugh !!!


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