Start of work on the big data project

BEIJING: China has started work on a mega project to build a national integrated big data system to improve overall computing power and resource efficiency, two crucial factors defining the country’s future productivity and development sustainability.

The project is to establish eight national data centers in the country’s economic powerhouses and less-developed but resource-rich regions, as well as 10 national data center clusters, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the chief economic planner.

Among the eight IT centers, four will be located in economically backward regions, including the Northern Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, the southwest Guizhou Province as well as the northwest Gansu Province and the Ningxia Autonomous Region. Hui.

The other four will be located in the more developed Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle.

The move comes amid a surge in demand for IT capacity as the country rides the wave of digitalization, but shortages of energy and land resources have limited the expansion of data centers in the poorest regions. more developed.

“Computing power has already become an important infrastructure for national economic development,” the NDRC said in a Q&A on its website, expecting China’s computing power demand to grow by more than 20%. % per year in the years to come.

By creating a national computing power network, the project will help less developed regions with abundant renewable energy resources to store and process data transmitted from economically advanced areas to meet growing demand and imbalance. regional capacities.

Specifically, the four hubs in the northern and western regions will be integrated into bases to meet the country’s non-real-time computing demands such as background processing, offline analysis as well as storage and saving data.

In the meantime, the other four hubs located in more developed regions will serve businesses that require greater network capacity such as industrial Internet and telemedicine, but the data centers will be gradually moved away from metropolises to balance the capacity of resource calculation and sustainability.

Sun Wei, an official with the NDRC’s innovation and high-tech development department, said the project is “a national-level integrated arrangement,” which, like past cross-regional mega-projects, has fully played into the advantage of the country’s system and mechanism.

China is adept at addressing regional resource imbalances with strategic projects.

Over the past decades, the country has realigned the allocation of key resources such as water, gas and electricity by building canals, pipelines and power grids across the country.

Besides optimizing computing capacity, the megaproject is China’s solution to the dilemma of supporting power-intensive data centers under ambitious carbon targets, as a mega data center could consume nearly 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

In Zhongwei, a city on the edge of the Tengger Desert in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the vast desert and bitter cold once limited local economic development, but today these weaknesses have become ideal conditions for centers of data.

With a high share of clean energy in its energy mix and an annual average temperature of 8.8 degrees Celsius to help keep servers cool, the northwestern city has already built six mega data centers serving internet companies like Meili Cloud Computing.

Gui’an New Area, a national-level new urban area in Guizhou, now houses the data centers of tech giants Huawei and Tencent.

The local natural environment has enabled Huawei’s data center to save more than 1 billion kilowatt-hours of energy and reduce carbon emissions by 810,000 tons per year, according to the company.

Huawei said the Gui’an data center will also serve as a global computer maintenance engineer base and employee training base, which will require the support of 600 to 800 engineers and provide training for about 10,000 people per year. year, facilitating local industries related to big data as well as the service sector.

“Building computing power hubs and data center clusters will effectively boost investment in upstream and downstream industries,” Sun said, noting that data centers drive long industrial chains and massive investment.

The relocation of IT facilities to less developed areas will lead to the relocation of related industries and stimulate cross-regional flows of data and value, leaving more room for development in the east while ushering in a new stage of large-scale development in the western regions, he said.

The NDRC believes that sectors such as construction, IT equipment manufacturing, information communication, software and green energy supply will benefit from the massive shift in computing capacity.

The big data project has “innovated the East-West cooperation model”, said Yu Jianguo, chief information officer of China Southern Power Grid. The company has decided to invest 10 billion yuan (about $1.58 billion) for an energy data center in Guizhou.

Yu said he expects the cross-regional project to enhance industrial integration, factor flow and IT capacity collaboration between regions, thereby unlocking the potential of regional cooperation and realizing a win-win development.

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