China's top industry regulator will introduce new policies to promote the high-quality development of the computing power industry, which will give the country an edge in building up its digital economy and injecting new vitality into the intelligent transformation of its industries, officials and experts said.
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.
Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said on Sunday that 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 surpassed the United States in artificial intelligence computing power in 2021. I believe in less than a year or two, China's overall computing power will exceed that of the US," Wu said.
Jin Zhuanglong, minister of industry and information technology, said that computing power has become a key productivity tool in the digital economy era and is "the cornerstone of the digital and intelligent transformation of the whole society".
According to Jin, China's total computing power has reached 197 EFLOPS, which places it second after the US
EFLOPS is a unit of the speed of computer systems. It equals to one quintillion floating-point operations per second.
The minister made the statement on Saturday during the opening ceremony of the 2023 China Computational Power Conference in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region.
More efforts will be made in enhancing independent innovation capabilities in areas such as computing algorithms and key chip products such as graphics processing units, Jin said.
The remarks came as China's computing power industry is expected to record faster development.
Chinese companies are scrambling to roll out ChatGPT-like AI services, which necessitates higher requirements for computing capacity, experts said.
The scale of China's core computing power industry reached 1.8 trillion yuan ($247 billion) in 2022. Every 1 yuan invested in computing power can drive economic growth of 3 to 4 yuan in GDP, according to calculations made by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.
Yu Xiaohui, head of the academy, said, "China's computing power industry has been growing at an average rate of nearly 30 percent for five years, and the figure for AI computing power has been 45 percent."
As of now, AI computing power accounts for more than 25 percent of China's overall computing power, Yu added.
Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile, said that 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.
On Saturday, China Mobile and China Electronics Technology Group Corp launched China's largest quantum computing cloud platform. The development shows that quantum computing in China is gradually moving toward a stage of practical use, the two companies said.
China Mobile said it will provide quantum computing cloud services, which links China Electronics Technology Group's 20-qubit quantum computer, to provide a quantum computing power testing environment.
Such services can better support universities, enterprises and researchers to carry out quantum algorithm experiments, and help solve complex computing problems in areas such as AI, biomedicine, intelligent transportation and aerospace.
Liu Jun, president of Lenovo China, said, "An independent AI ecosystem is forming in China at a faster pace, and AI will be applied in all industry scenarios in the future."