Penn Engineering’s ENIAD sets new world record for energy-efficient supercomputing

When it comes to supercomputers, raw speed is no longer enough to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. When the data being crunched comes in the form of complex networks—such as tracking the billions of contacts between individuals for global COVID contact tracing—supercomputers that excel at a technique known as “graph processing” are necessary.

Jing Li (left) and Jialiang Zhang.
ENIAD, the product of associate professor Jing Li and lab member Jialiang Zhang, outperformed Tianhe-3, China’s next-generation exascale supercomputer. (Image: Penn Engineering Today)

As graph analysis becomes integral to more and more applications, such as drug discovery, climate simulation and social science, researchers have the paradoxical task of making these supercomputers faster while using less power.

Now, researchers at the School of Engineering and Applied Science have shown that their supercomputer, ENIAD, is among the best in the world when it comes to energy-efficient graph-solving.

ENIAD’s performance was certified by Graph500, the de facto standard for ranking the performance and energy efficiency of supercomputers around the world. Running one of Graph500’s benchmark graph analytics applications, ENIAD took the top spot among a list of 500 of the most energy-efficient supercomputers reported in the world.

The researchers behind ENIAD are Jialiang Zhang, a graduate student in the Computational Intelligence lab and Jing Li, Eduardo D. Glandt Faculty Fellow and associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering. They named their supercomputer after ENIAC, the world’s first digital computer, which was developed at Penn 75 years ago in the same building where Li and Zhang currently work.

“We’re proud to be carrying on ENIAC’s legacy by setting this new world record,” Li says.

Read more at Penn Engineering Today.