At the China Computational Power Conference 2023, held in Yinchuan, capital city of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, in mid-August, Jin Zhuanglong, head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said China is in the process of improving the infrastructure development for computing power and accelerating its application. These efforts aim to build a more accessible information superhighway for China's economic and social development.
Computational power, the ability to process data by computers, is measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS). All that computers do relies on highly complex floating-point operations. The more such operations a computer can conduct per second, the smoother it runs. In the digital era, computing power is presenting itself as a new driver of economic and social development and the bedrock for the transition to digitization and smart technologies.
According to MIIT statistics, China's computing power has reached 197 exaFLOPS, or 197 quintillion floating-point operations per second, ranking second in the world after the United States. This falls far behind demand, as China's booming digital economy has pushed computing power into every corner of people's daily lives and work. Moreover, China's computing power is scattered among several tech giants, which have yet to forge a synergy. It's thus urgent to build a national computing power network and data center clusters.
Meanwhile, China's computing power industry is thriving, with its output of servers, computers and smartphones ranking first globally. Going forward, it will need to focus on the following two areas:
The first is to provide more convenient and safer computing power network technologies. The efficiency of Internet transmission is quite low in China, worsened by poor security, while the high cost of private networks is deterring a lot of users. Solutions for these problems must be identified and implemented. A new concept, public-private network
technology, has now emerged in China's computing power market, which ensures both security and efficiency at reasonable prices. This computing power-dedicated technology has already been applied in around 40 cities across the country. A new model for computing power supply, known as a computing power grid connection, is expected to be brought into being.
Second is to push computing power into public services such as administrative affairs, transportation and medical care. This is expected to facilitate the development of new technologies, models and sectors, which will greatly accelerate digital and intelligent transformation of these public services.
In 2021, the computing power industry's market value exceeded 1.5 trillion yuan ($222.5 billion), while the number of super-large and large data centers in use exceeded 450 across the nation, and that of intelligent computing centers surpassed 20, according to the MIIT.
A mega project was launched in February involving the establishment of eight national computing hubs and 10 national data center clusters. By creating a national computing power network, the project will support the less developed regions that have abundant renewable energy in west China to store and process data transmitted from the economically advanced areas in the east to meet the soaring demand and address regional capacity imbalances.
Booming artificial intelligence technologies in recent years, particularly driverless cars, intelligent manufacturing and biomedicine, are thirsty for computing power. In order to become more competitive, many countries are rushing to invest heavily in the development and deployment of intelligent computing power. Computing power is also being put to greater use in China thanks to the constant improvement and coordination of its computing power resources.
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson
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