Rigetti’s quantum computing roadmap is being delayed amid supply shortages and higher costs


Quantum computing company Rigetti Computing Inc. announced today that it is delaying its plans to ship 1,000-qubit and 4,000-qubit systems by a year.

The company said in an updated technology roadmap that it would deliver a single-chip 84-qubit machine by next year, before launching a 1,000-qubit system in 2025 and a 4,000-qubit system in 2027 become. It had previously announced plans to launch the chips in 2024 and 2026 respectively.

In an update released as the company reported first-quarter results, Rigetti said the new schedule is based on factors including higher-than-expected costs for labor, equipment and system components, and supply chain challenges that are accelerating impacted the availability of “input materials.” Additionally, Rigetti said it had less working capital than expected due to its merger with a special-purpose acquisition company last year.

Rigetti underwent a so-called SPAC merger to go public without the intense scrutiny and expense of an IPO.

Rigetti said the single-chip 84-qubit computer will be based on the company’s next-generation chip, which is said to offer higher fidelity and improved connectivity compared to its existing chips.

Founded and directed by Chad Rigetti, a former IBM Corp. physicist. (pictured), Rigetti is at the forefront of a fast-growing segment of quantum computing that was once considered little more than a scientific experiment. Today, however, scientists believe we may be on the brink of a great new era of computing, in which machines will use quantum mechanics to accelerate the speed at which they perform calculations. Proponents say quantum computers may be able to handle tasks far more demanding than even today’s fastest supercomputers.

One of the problems Rigetti is trying to solve in quantum computing is the stability of the so-called qubits that sit at the heart of quantum machines, instead of the traditional “bits” in classical computers. To that end, Rigetti has taken a so-called “multichip” approach to building quantum processors, and last year unveiled its 80-qubit Aspen M processor, which was compiled with two separate 40-qubit quantum chips.

So while Rigetti’s next single chip will be 84 qubits, it will continue the multichip strategy to keep building more powerful and capable machines. To that end, its roadmap now calls for shipping a 336-qubit multichip processor sometime in 2023, followed by the 1,000-qubit multichip system in 2025, before finally shipping the 4,000-qubit system in or after 2027 will.

“Both the 1,000+ and 4,000+ qubit systems are expected to take advantage of the company’s next-generation multi-chip technology and architecture, similar to what the company expects for its 336-qubit multi-chip system,” the company said in a statement.

The delay in Rigetti’s roadmap means it’s likely in the race with IBM Corp. will be left behind, which recently announced plans to deliver a qubit system with more than 4,000 qubits called “Kookaburra” by 2025.

In its first earnings results since the SPAC merger was completed, Rigetti revealed that it is currently barely making any money. Revenue for the first three months of fiscal 2022 was just $2.1 million, up from $2.4 million a year ago. Overall, the company posted a loss of $10.4 million.

Photo: TechCrunch/Flickr

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