Increasing capability crucial in digital space development, academician says
China's computing power is expected to exceed that of the United States in one or two years, which will give the nation an edge to build up its digital economy and inject new vitality into the high-quality development of China's sprawling industries, a renowned expert said.
Computing power is widely seen as being crucial for a country to lead the world in digital space. China ranks second only to the US in global computing power.
Computing power roughly refers to the ability to process data. It includes information infrastructure and technologies to support information computing power, data storage and network capacity in the era of the digital economy.
Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said computing power is the new engine of the digital economy, which, driven by innovation, is a major growth point of China's economic strength.
China ranked second in the world in terms of the scale of computing power last year, with the nation accounting for 27 percent of global computing power. In comparison, the number for the US was 31 percent, Wu said.
"China already surpassed the US in artificial intelligence computing power last year. I believe in less than a year or two, China's overall computing power will exceed that of the US," Wu said.
Last year, the market size of China's computing power industry exceeded 1.5 trillion yuan ($222.4 billion), with cloud computing exceeding 300 billion yuan, internet data center services over 150 billion yuan and artificial intelligence over 400 billion yuan, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a Beijing-based government think tank.
Zhang Yunming, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a computing infrastructure conference in Jinan, Shandong province, on Saturday that "Computing power has become a new productive force after thermal power and electricity".
It can boost the role of 5G, big data, AI and other digital technologies in accelerating industrial upgrading, activate the value of digital data in all aspects of the real economy, and lift the production efficiency of many sectors, Zhang said.
"We will accelerate the research and development of key computing power technologies such as high-end chips and core computer algorithms," he added.
At the opening ceremony of the conference, eight companies, including China Mobile, Huawei, China Telecom and Alibaba Cloud signed agreements on computing infrastructure and initiated more than 10 national data center projects, with the total investment hitting nearly 50 billion yuan.
"For every yuan invested in building computing power, 3 to 4 yuan of GDP could be generated," said Li Zhengmao, former general manager of China Telecom, adding that data, computing power and algorithms are three elements that largely determine the landscape of the digital world.
Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile, said China is accelerating the construction of new infrastructures, such as the east-data-west-computing project which focuses on building data centers and promoting the coordinated development of computing infrastructure in the nation.
"Building computing power networks is the top priority of future development. We will work to promote deep integration of various information technologies and make computing power as common and easy to use as water and electricity," Yang said.