Taiwan urged to accelerate quantum computing development

Taiwan-based IT companies’ progresses in quantum computing remain unclear, which could take to the country missing out on the opportunity from a tech segment that both the US and China see as a new battlefield, according to a local academic researcher.

China has been pushing local semiconductor and IT firms to list on the country’s Sci-Tech Innovation Board (STAR market) to raise fund, with first-tier quantum computing developer QuantumCTek being one of them.

Chii Dong Chen, a physics researcher at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, pointed out that quatum computing will achieve a breakthrough within the next 10 years to allow connection with existing PC systems, sparking a new wave of revolution in the IT industry.

The US congress in December 2018 passed the National Quantum Initiative, planning to spend US$1.2 billion in five years to establish an office to organize quantum computing research. The EU in 2018 also started the Quantum Technologies Flagship project with investment of EUR1 billion (US$1.17 billion) over 10 years.

The UK, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia have all invested heavily in related research, while China already has invested about US$1.35 billion in related development.

US-based enterprises including Google, IBM, Intel and Microsoft have devoted much more efforts and resources to quantum computing development compared to the governments.

China holds the most patents related to quantum computing at the moment and is the number-two US by a great distance. Japan, Canada, South Korea, the UK and Australia have also been keen on obtaining related patents.

For quantum applications, China is primarily focusing on the communication segment, while the US is devoted more to computing, Chen said.

Taiwan-based IT enterprises including TSMC, Quanta Computer and Foxconn Technology (Hon Hai Precision Industry) have all invested in developing quantum technologies, but these companies so far have shown no obvious progresses in related development.

TSMC chairman Mark Liu only has said that the company will not miss out on the quantum computing era. Quanta chairman Barry Lam has said the company has already begun development of quantum technologies, eyeing the business opportunities from cloud computing and IoT devices.

Foxconn chairman Liu Young-Way noted that the company has already established an R&D center for quantum computing and expects its applications to become an industry growth driver five years from now.

Chen believes it is not too late for Taiwan to pick up its pace in quantum computing research, as the first transistor was invented in 1947, but Taiwan’s semiconductor and IT industries did not begin operation until 1980s.

With Taiwan’s competitive semiconductor and IT technologies and experience in component manufacturing, Chen is confident that Taiwan will be able to have a major presence in quantum computing.