Quantum computers are expected to outperform conventional computers in several important applications, from molecular simulation to search algorithms, once they can be scaled up to large numbers—typically millions—of quantum bits (qubits)1,2,3. For most solid-state qubit technologies—for example, those using superconducting circuits or semiconductor spins—scaling poses a considerable challenge because every additional qubit increases the heat generated, whereas the cooling power of dilution refrigerators is severely limited at their operating temperature (less than 100 millikelvin)4,5,6. Here we demonstrate the operation of a scalable silicon quantum processor unit cell comprising two qubits confined to quantum dots at about 1.5 kelvin. We achieve this by isolating the quantum dots from the electron reservoir, and then initializing and reading the qubits solely via tunnelling of electrons between the two quantum dots7,8,9. We coherently control the qubits using electrically driven spin resonance10,11 in isotopically enriched silicon12 28Si, attaining single-qubit gate fidelities of 98.6 per cent and a coherence time of 2 microseconds during ‘hot’ operation, comparable to those of spin qubits in natural silicon at millikelvin temperatures13,14,15,16. Furthermore, we show that the unit cell can be operated at magnetic fields as low as 0.1 tesla, corresponding to a qubit control frequency of 3.5 gigahertz, where the qubit energy is well below the thermal energy. The unit cell constitutes the core building block of a full-scale silicon quantum computer and satisfies layout constraints required by error-correction architectures8,17. Our work indicates that a spin-based quantum computer could be operated at increased temperatures in a simple pumped 4He system (which provides cooling power orders of magnitude higher than that of dilution refrigerators), thus potentially enabling the integration of classical control electronics with the qubit array18,19.