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Shanghai Opens Artificial Intelligence Data Centre

Shanghai’s Lin-gang Free Trade Zone has just put into operation what could be one of Asia’s largest data centres. What makes this data hub unique though is not its size but that it employs Artificial Intelligence (AI). Simply put, it should provide for a faster more efficient sustainable operation.

By conventional standards, this data centre is large. It covers a total area of ​​130,000 square meters. Capacity-wise, it can hold 5,000 computer racks. Built with US$880 million worth of investments, the infrastructure has a designed computing capacity of 3.74 exaFLOPS, which can easily be in the running as one of the strongest among data centres in the region.

AI computing will be the most efficient method through the use of a high-speed CPU accelerator in a data centre.

– Li Genguo, Director, Shanghai Supercomputer Center

AI can certainly turn things up. One of the most obvious advantages of this AI data centre is its overwhelming speed. As the AI model can be trained with 100 billion parameters, it can provide millions of business models for all types of companies.

All that can mean the availability of greater computing power for the industry. Already, it is expected that companies in the bio-medicine and automotive industries will benefit most from the data centre. That’s because industries like bio-medicines and physics need AI to help them explore the next step, an industry expert noted.

Moreover, it’s not just speed that will be directly enhanced by AI. As this data centre can check its power use status better, that can translate to greater savings in energy. To note, traditional algorithm methods used in data centres have high energy costs. However, AI computing can be much more environmentally friendly.

With an electricity consumption of 2000 TWh globally – approximately 10 per cent of the world’s electricity production – the ICT sector is one of the largest electricity consumers on the planet. The trend is accelerating: consumption is estimated to have increased to just over 20 per cent by 2030. One of the main reasons is that electricity consumption in data centres is expected to quadruple during that time.

While there are many individual aspects that make up a data centre, the two major components are power and cooling. Optimise those buckets and a data centre will run more efficiently in terms of performance, cost, and operation.

Learning how to optimise data centre environments in the past only accounted for certain variables and was difficult to do in real-time. AI has allowed for dynamic optimisation, improving data centre efficiency immensely.

For power, AI allows data centres to track the real power draw of individual data processing units, allowing teams to define and locate where power is being diverted from the critical and essential loads. Like with cooling motor amperage, AI allows teams to more quickly set a benchmark for optimal performance and know within seconds when a piece of equipment isn’t functioning as intended.

The establishment of such large-scale AI data centres is crucial to China’s self-design abilities in the AI ​​industry. A China Academy of Sciences report predicts the value of the country’s core AI industry will reach more than US$63 billion by the end of 2025.

Shanghai, of course, is at the heart of it all. Recently, it used another emerging technology to attract global talent. As reported on OpenGov Asia, China’s richest city used the metaverse to recruit ICT talents from all over the world.

That gives the idea of how much digital transformation has moved China’s economy forward. It’s affecting just about every sector of its society. Even rural farms that used to be governed by traditional methods are making the most of smart agriculture reaping more bountiful harvests in the process — with diminishing effort.

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