Biomedical Research Computing Facility (BRCF)
To support research computing workflows not addressed by the Texas Advanced Computing Center’s (TACC) supercomputers, the Biomedical Research Computing Facility’s (BRCF) mission is to provide a standard hardware, software and storage infrastructure suitable for local research computing, that can be efficiently managed: our “POD” architecture.
High-density storage + compute PODs – Each POD consists of one or more compute servers with a shared high-density storage server with more than 95 TB of usable storage managed by the high-integrity ZFS file system. Home, Work and Scratch areas are accessible from any compute server and from user computers via the Samba network file system.
Data management services – A major goal is to help members organize and manage research data in accordance with granting agency requirements. We work with new participants to consolidate and organize data from disparate locations onto POD storage. Backups are then performed weekly to spinning disk at the UT data center, and data is archived periodically to the Ranch tape system at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).
Extensive bioinformatics software in a non-batch environment – All compute servers have an extensive suite of Bioinformatics packages installed, including web-based tools such as R Studio and JupyterHub Servers, and we work with members to provision additional software as needed. Importantly, there is no batch system; this lets users perform long-running jobs not supported at TACC.
Responsive, biological sciences focused computing support – Our support team consists of both biomedical sciences staff and individuals from the College of Natural Sciences IT office. The combination allows us both to understand member needs and to centrally manage and monitor these systems efficiently. We also work closely with members to accommodate emerging needs. For example, based on community feedback we implemented automated data backups for instrument-associated Windows computers.
Cost model – One or more participating groups initially purchase POD hardware from their funding sources. We then charge a monthly fee that covers backup equipment, support personnel costs, hosting, system administration, and spare parts.
For more information, please visit the BRCF Users Wiki.