Quantum computing announcements from China and the US herald an exciting long-term future for the tech industry. Yet, for the foreseeable future, it is the semiconductor industry that will meet the world’s need for more computer power and faster processing speeds.
Just months after Google declared it had reached quantum supremacy, a group of Chinese scientists has also claimed the same breakthrough. But despite these reports marking the start of the next big international technology race, commercial quantum computing is a long way off.
Yes, quantum computers can conduct certain calculations far faster than current supercomputers and show great potential, for instance in enabling vastly improved AI. However, at present the technology is very limited in practical terms and it will take a lot more time in development to become commercially viable.
For the time being, the demand for increasing computing power, particularly in areas such as AI, autonomous vehicles and facial recognition, will need to be met by semiconductor-based classic computers.
While China seems to have an early lead in the quantum computing race, when it comes to semiconductors, the US, Japan and the Netherlands currently control all of the crucial technology to design and manufacture semiconductors. Until quantum computing becomes sufficiently commercially ready, these countries will be able to capitalise on the leverage they have.
Quantum computing has enormous potential, but semiconductors will be important for the foreseeable future.