Great computing power is powering up Chinese digital economy
Keke Gai, Jing Yu

Editor's note: Keke Gai, a professor of the School of Cyberspace and Science and Technology at Beijing Institute of Technology; Jing Yu, an associate professor of the Institute of Information Engineering at Chinese Academy of Sciences. The article reflects the authors' views, and not necessarily those of CGTN.

The opening ceremony and opening forum for 2023 World Computing Conference, September 15, 2023./Xinhua
The opening ceremony and opening forum for 2023 World Computing Conference, September 15, 2023./Xinhua

The opening ceremony and opening forum for 2023 World Computing Conference, September 15, 2023./Xinhua

The 2023 World Computing Conference was held in Changsha, China from September 14 to 16, themed "New Changes in the Computing Industry". This year's conference highlights the role of computing power in accelerating digital economy upgrades throughout a variety of areas, including hardware, software, strategy and policy.

Holding the world's second-largest computing capacity, China has been expanding the scalability and adaptability of its computing power in the digital economy and the industry. According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China's total computing power has grown at an average rate of approximately 30 percent in the past five years. The prosperous increase shows a hint of supply-and-demand industry chain powered by the growth of computing power in China.

Almost every investment in computing power will have a likelihood to become three or four times greater when considering the contribution to growth of China's GDP, according to the estimates made by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. The estimate was sufficiently optimistic as the scale of the computing power industry reached at least 1.8 trillion yuan ($247.4 billion) this year. Behind the blooming scene, it may also imply that China emphasizes the significance of computing power development and making inroads in multiple fields, such as infrastructure improvement, application ecosystem, supply chain, education, and financial investment.

For example, it has been reported the first intelligent computing power center and the first computing power trading hub was established in Ningxia, China in 2023. The successful implementation of novel computing power platform is deemed to be an achievement from the project of "Channels Computing Resources from the East to the West" (also known as "East-Data & West-Computing", EDWC). The new center is one of eight national computing hubs planned by the EDWC project that marks computing power as a critical infrastructure of digital economy development. Thanks to the implementation, resource optimization has been made in multiple aspects, e.g., optimizing power supply, reducing service latency and saving public network bandwidth costs. It is believed that the deployment is beneficial for upgrading the service capability to mid-to-high-level demands of computing power.

Driven by the EDWC project, the development of computing power in China covers not only supercomputing, but also the infrastructure for supporting data transfers, maintenance, resource allocation, and trading. For instance, constructing computing power network is an approach for interconnecting ubiquitous and heterogeneous computing power resources. "The computing power network is an optimal paradigm to solve current computing power issues. As long as there is available supercomputing power, the computing power network can support users to complete computing tasks," said Chen Jian, the board chairman of Beijing PARATERA Tech.

No doubt that computing power has become a key area in the digital economy era. Named as a critical infrastructure in digital economy, computing power has been applied to various domains, such as environment protection, smart agriculture, disaster prevention warning, electronic government affairs, medical care, industrial internet, and other industries.

Inspired by the blossoming of computing power, a number of new technologies have been facilitated by receiving such high-way capacity.

"Computing power has changed the way we design the application," said Wei Yihang, a senior engineer from Muguo Tech. "It provides us with an option for completing complex work, no matter which clients are served. Our products mainly focus on adopting technologies in agriculture, (to be specific) the cattle industry. We need to combine a bunch of technologies, including blockchain, AI (artificial intelligence), IoT (internet of things), cloud computing, and big data. Computing power support is a fundamental to make it possible."

Smart agriculture is just one example of using computing power to empower advanced technologies in traditional domains. AI-based solutions are considered to be an alternative in achieving function creation, efficiency enhancement and cost reduction. "Thanks to computing power supports, we have developed AI-based facial recognition technology (for cattle) and it indeed brings our products a lower cost and makes it more functional," Wei added.

Being a buzz technical word, Artificial Intelligence Generated Content (AIGC) maybe one of the greatest customers of computing power that needs to process thousands of billions of parameters for model training. In most cases, it is believed that sufficient computing power is a must-have condition for achieving desired model training objectives. Seeking breakthroughs in advanced technical realms appears an inseparable relationship with strong computing power. Similar situations also happen to other cutting-edge tech domains, such as quantum computing and AI for Science.

Despite great demand for computing power, a common topic is that facilitating industries need further improvements or upgrades. For example, cost issues may exist in many cases in computing power industry. Exploring the method of reducing costs maybe a long-term iterative work. Chinese scientists have made efforts on this mission from different perspectives including chip design and algorithm innovation. Addressing the future development of the Chinese computing power industry, Chen suggests that product development and offerings should be led by real demands rather than seeking customers with excessive computing power resources.

In summary, the computing power industry is becoming a major driving force for not only the digital economy but also other real industries in China. In the future, a healthy development of computing power will continuously contribute to the high-quality development of Chinese economy.

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