A start-up from Barcelona, stay away, has just launched a device that generates random numbers at record speed. This technology was born in a research center, used by the 2022 nobel prize in physicsand is a utility product for encryption and computing.

Generating random numbers has many applications. Beyond the Online gamblinguse them need them to do simulations that use from pharmaceuticals to finance. For example, to predict the weather you have to calculate the probability of many different scenarios and random numbers are used to generate them by chance, without leaving any relevant scenario out.

Chance is also necessary to generate keys of Recorded chance that no one can guess. futures quantum computers they could break many current techniques «The industry is going to need good quality random numbers in the face of this threat» verified Thomas Strohmdirector of quantum technologies of the German company Bosch, not directly involved in Quside.

What is the device?

There are few things as complicated as generating random numbers. If a person starts saying numbers haphazardly, he’ll soon get tired and start repeating patterns. The same is true of computers, which generate pseudorandom numbers from algorithms.

«We generate them from an occasional physical phenomenon in itself,» he explains. carlos abellan, former researcher at the Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (ICFO) and director of Quside. Inside the device is a indium phosphide laser. The phase of its photons behaves naturally in a totally random way. The trick is to translate this feature into electrical signals, corresponding to random numbers.

In 2014, Abellán emerged with other ICFO researchers who could thus generate 43 billion random bits per second, between 1,000 and 10,000 times more than the best existing devices at the time. Fitting that lab experiment into a little box was next. The first result was the FMC400 appliance, which was opened for customers dedicated to data center security.

Now the company has just released the Randomness Processing Unit (RPU), a device that can be coupled with a supercomputer and accelerate up to 10 times the speed of its simulations, reduces its power consumption: the burden of generating random numbers is carried by the RPU, not the computer. The system has been tested on the Mare Nostrum supercomputers in Barcelona and Finis Terrae in Santiago.

“Currently, there are several companies that competitively generate random numbers [con Quside]. a peculiarity [del sistema de Barcelona] is his speedsays Strohm.

From market to science…

The idea of ​​the device was born more than a decade ago, within the framework of a project of quantum cryptography for satellitesrecalls Abellán. But the first application of it was a theoretical question, which is the basis of the last Nobel prize in physics.

morgan mitchellICFO researcher involved in that finding, learned that a number of researchers searched for a source of high-quality random numbers, with an ambitious goal: no less than «disprove» an einstein.

The German genius denied the validity of one of the phenomena predicted by quantum mechanics: the quantum entanglement. If there is a pair of particles subject to this phenomenon (that is, “entangled”), even if they are at opposite ends of the Universe, when one is acted upon, the other immediately feels the effect. Einstein called the process of “spooky action at a distance”.

In it 1964, a test was developed to find out who was right: the Bell test. It was not until 2015 when this test could be carried out (which by the way made Einstein right), with the maximum certainty of having a true result. For this, the use of the Barcelona random machine was essential. The result earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics. Anton Zeilingerone of the scientists who used the device.

…and from science to market

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“It is exciting to see that an investigation applied contributes to science fundamental and vice versa,” says Mitchell. Indeed, in parallel with these studies, Abellán and colleagues were working at full speed to integrate the device into a small chip, which they succeeded in 2016.

Quside has now 35 employees and a laboratory in Castelldefels. The start-up continues to spend more than it invoices, but it has just closed a round of significant investment funds, says Abellán. The effort of the research center that gave birth to it, the ICFO, is compensated by royalties on sales, concludes the director.

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