A billion operations per second isn’t cool. Know what’s cool? A million billion operations per second.
That’s the promise of a new computing technique that uses laser-light pulses to make a prototype of the fundamental unit of computing, called a bit, that could switch between its on and off, or “1” and “0” states, 1 quadrillion times per second. That’s about 1 million times faster than the bits in modern computers.
Conventional computers (everything from your calculator to the smartphone or laptop you’re using to read this) think in terms of 1s and 0s. Everything they do, from solving math problems, to representing the world of a video game, amounts to a very elaborate collection of 1-or-0, yes-or-no operations. And a typical computer in 2018 can use silicon bits to perform more or less 1 billion of those operations per second.