China updates national computing plan with calls for more edge, storage, memory, and … Blu-ray?

Beijing wants latency down, more sharing of compute capacity

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has issued a revised "Action Plan for the High-Quality Development of Computing Infrastructure" that emphasizes increased deployment of edge computing and the low-latency networks that make it possible.

The plan, published on Monday, sets goals for the state of China's digital infrastructure in 2025. By then Beijing wants the collective power of the nation's computers to top 300 exaflops, backed by national storage capacity of 1,800 exabytes.

Interestingly, China wants 30 percent of that storage capacity to be "advanced" – a term that's not explicitly defined. The plan's accompanying interpretation document, however, calls for China to "Promote the innovative development of storage technologies such as all-flash memory and Blu-ray storage, seize the opportunity of flash storage upgrades, and achieve the common development of computing center memory and the storage industry."

Machine translation of technical terms is not always nuanced, so combined with the fact that Blu-ray is hardly leading edge and has become an unloved data storage medium The Register is reluctant to suggest the document indicates China is plotting an optical storage revolution.

The mention of common memory and storage is more enticing. If China encourages storage-class memory at scale, that could make the industry-centric apps Beijing is so fond of – in this document and many previous missives – formidably fast.

Edge computing is very much on the agenda, as Beijing wants industry apps to run everywhere they're needed, as part of its ongoing drive to digitize industry.

The document sets latency goals of five milliseconds between major computing infrastructure and network hubs, and sub-millisecond latency within major urban areas. Beijing wants IPv6 and SRv6 to be used on 40 percent of networks, and for optic fiber to be the physical layer on 80 percent of important sites.

As The Register has previously reported, China wants to migrate five million racks worth of kit from its densely populated east, where land is scarce and power is expensive, to western regions closer to renewable energy sources.

The plan calls for better sharing of info about capacity rates in datacenters and "collaborative linking" of compute power around the country – in part to inform development of other projects so they can take advantage of datacenters where capacity is available. The document also suggests development of scheduling tools that allow users to access computing power as and when needed.

Predictably, the document calls on the nation's computing infrastructure to become more sustainable through judicious use of electricity and using low-carbon inputs.

As ever, China suggests its goals can be achieved with collaboration by government and the private sector, industry groups and standards organizations. If sanctions that prevent many Western-developed technologies being exported to China are seen as a problem, the documents don't mention it.

If China can pull this all off, the document envisages it will make the nation's economy more efficient and help Chinese businesses to become global players.

Maybe it's time to think again about Blu-ray? ®

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