Mega data project bolsters China's digital infrastructure
*In February, China started work on the project to build an integrated national big data system involving the establishment of eight national computing hubs and 10 national data center clusters.
*The project is designed to have less developed inland regions store and process data transmitted from economically advanced eastern areas. It is a key part of China's digital infrastructure.
*In the next step, China will build and deploy modern infrastructure with a forward-thinking mindset, and accelerate the digital transformation of traditional infrastructure.
GUIYANG -- As China rides the digitalization wave and seeks to tap into the full potential of the big data industry, a megaproject addressing the soaring demand for computing power is taking shape.
In February, China started work on the project to build an integrated national big data system involving the establishment of eight national computing hubs and 10 national data center clusters.
Dubbed "East data, west computing," the project is a key part of China's digital infrastructure. It aims to coordinate the computing capabilities of the country's eastern regions, where the need for computing is high, with inland western regions, where abundant renewable resources are optimal for the construction of data centers.
Simply put, the project is designed to have less developed inland regions store and process data transmitted from economically advanced eastern areas.
A staff member checks equipment at a data center of China Mobile in southwest China's Guizhou Province, May 24, 2022. [Xinhua/Ou Dongqu]
"The construction of the project has taken shape and heralds a promising future," said Lin Nianxiu, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, as he addressed the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2022 held on Thursday in Guiyang, southwest China's Guizhou Province.
In the next step, China will build and deploy modern infrastructure with a forward-thinking mindset, and accelerate the digital transformation of traditional infrastructure, Lin said.
Industry insiders have high hopes that the project will boost economic growth. By building computing hubs and data centers, the project is expected to boost investment in the upstream and downstream industrial chains.
Statistics show that since the beginning of this year, 25 new projects have been launched in 10 national data center clusters in China, with combined computing power equivalent to approximately 27 million personal computers.
These new projects have attracted a total investment of over 190 billion yuan (about 28.2 billion U.S. dollars). Investment in China's western regions increased sixfold from the same period last year.
Aerial photo taken on May 24, 2022 shows the "Huawei Cloud" data center (R) and the Tencent Qixing data center (L) in Gui'an New Area of southwest China's Guizhou Province. [Xinhua/Ou Dongqu]
As one of the designated computing hubs, Guizhou has decided to upgrade its digital infrastructure and plans to spend about 17 billion yuan on the big data industry this year.
Guizhou will construct a "data corridor" that will link it with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle to better meet the computing needs of the two areas, said Jiao Delu, chief engineer of the Guizhou provincial big data development administration.
A recent industry report has highlighted China's impressive advances in computing power, noting that it has become the driving force in promoting the digital economy.
Increasing investment in this sector will have an amplified and long-term effect on economic growth, said the report, jointly released by Tsinghua University, the International Data Corporation and Chinese IT firm Inspur Information.
A staff member watches a video at the exhibition center of the national big data comprehensive pilot zone in southwest China's Guizhou Province, May 26, 2022. [Xinhua/Ou Dongqu]
"The country's move to channel more computing resources from its eastern areas to its less developed western regions offers a huge opportunity for enterprises," said Yu Junfang, deputy general manager with the local branch of China Unicom in Guizhou.
Yu said China Unicom plans to invest nearly 1.5 billion yuan in the expansion of its data center in Guiyang, adding nearly 7,000 more server racks to its current total of 3,000.
SPURRING COMMERCIAL USE
Since Guizhou was approved to build the country's first national big data comprehensive pilot zone in 2016, the province has become the frontrunner in the country's big data industry. After years of development, many data centers there have started to enjoy commercial success.
The Gui'an Supercomputing Center began operations in late 2020. With 537 servers and 1,000 high-performance graphics processors, the center boasts a combined computing power of 13.4 quadrillion floating-point operations per second, ranking third among data centers in the west of China.
Aerial photo taken on May 24, 2022 shows Guizhou Information Park of China Telecom Cloud Computing in Gui'an New Area, southwest China's Guizhou Province. [Xinhua/Ou Dongqu]
Peng Benqian, an executive at the center's operating company, said that the center has been promoting the commercial use of computing power and storage resources while meeting the needs of national scientific research.
In January 2021, Shenzhen Rayvision Technology Co., Ltd., a company that specializes in providing vertical cloud computing services for the visual arts industry, became the first customer to purchase computing power from the center.
Subsequently, the center provided computer power services for the post-rendering work of many films and television shows, including blockbusters "The Battle at Lake Changjin" and "New Gods: Nezha Reborn."
By using the supercomputing power, rendering work that used to take more than 100 hours can now be completed in one to five minutes, said Dai Kaiguo, an engineer at Rayvision.
Video reporters: Liu Qinbing, Yang Yanbin; video editors: Zhou Sa'ang, Yin Le