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A Guided Tour of the RACF

by John S. De Stefano Jr. last modified Jan 15, 2009 08:33 PM
Contributors: Shigeki Misawa, Tony Chan
A history of the organization and facility management.

The organization that has become the RACF began when the RHIC Computing Facility (RCF) was established in the 1990s to support the computing needs of the experiments (BRAHMS, PHENIX, PHOBOS and STAR) at the, then newly constructed, Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). The RCF was a full-service scientific computing facility, and it provided the bulk of the dedicated computer processing, storage, and analysis resources for the RHIC experiments, along with general services such as electronic mail, web services, file back-up services and document processing for the RHIC users.

In the mid 1990s, Brookhaven was selected as the U.S. Tier 1 computing facility for the ATLAS experiment at the LHC (CERN). The ATLAS Computing Facility (ACF) was established to support the computing needs of the U.S. collaborators in the ATLAS experiment, leveraging the already established infrastructure and capabilities of the RCF, resulting in the RACF. In addition to utilizing the existing computing services at the RCF, the ACF added support for newer computing services required to support the "compute model" planned by the ATLAS experiment. These new services build on the ideas of a global computing grid that grew out of the academic research in grid computing.

The major components of the RACF are the 7.7 M SpecINT2000 (SI2K) unit processing farm (currently with over 5200 processing cores), the distributed and centralized disk storage farm (over 2.1 PB of on-line disk storage), the robotic tape storage silos (8 PB of storage) and the grid computing software infrastructure. The hardware is a combination of commodity-based processing servers, enterprise-class UNIX servers, and highly-specialized mass storage systems, all connected by a high-speed network infrastructure.

Since its establishment in the 1990's, the RACF has grown to its current level of 37 staff members. The combined RACF staff operates and manages, year-round, a heterogeneous, large-scale, multi-purpose facility, serving a worldwide community of about 2,500 (and growing) users, while continuously innovating and addressing the ever-changing computing requirements of our user base.

For a detailed description of RACF facility resources and services, please see this HEPiX 2008 BNL Site Report presentation (warning: graphic-intensive document, about 60 MB in size).

Some pictures of the facility are available here.

For users or prospective users of the RACF facility, information on using the facility can be found on the Getting Started web page.

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