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2016

Advanced digital security and surveillance (DSS) systems bring new capabilities to everything from retail and government surveillance to manufacturing process improvement and business automation. But as DSS systems grow, they create challenges in design complexity, storage, performance, and networking.

 

A new family of compact, low-power-consumption processors with exceptional compute per-watt and integrated image and graphics processing offers help. Components based on the latest Intel® Atom™ processor E3900 series, Intel® Pentium® processor N4200, and Intel® Celeron® processor N3350 enable designers to deploy flexible, small-footprint video analytics solutions capable of everything from object detection and tracking to facial recognition and machine vision (see Figure 1).

 

 

Figure 1. The latest Intel® Atom™ processor E3900 series, Intel® Pentium® processor N4200, and Intel® Celeron® processor N3350 enable designers to deploy a range of flexible, small-footprint video analytics solutions.

 

Outstanding Compute and Determinism in a Compact Package

Available in dual- and quad-core SKUs running at up to 2.5 GHz and handling up to 8 GB of memory, these processors deliver up to 1.7 times more computing power compared to the previous generation. A compact flip chip ball grid array (FCBGA) makes them an excellent fit for compact, IP cameras, network video recorders (NVRs), and IoT video gateways. The small packaging, high performance, and low power draw (as little as 6 W thermal design power) bring higher levels of distributed intelligence to flexible DSS solutions.

 

This intelligence enables real-time analytics in edge solutions that can reduce DSS data storage and transmission demands. Instead of transmitting video to a data center and waiting for instructions, a smart camera or video gateway can perform analysis locally and initiate an immediate alert or action.

 

The new processors also include Intel® Time Coordinated Computing Technology (Intel® TCC Technology). This feature makes DSS systems more reliable and responsive. Intel TCC Technology can synchronize networks of devices—such as groups of IP cameras—to within one microsecond (1 μs), greatly improving real-time deterministic behavior.

 

A Compact Image Capture and Processing Powerhouse

The new processors provide a range of features for DSS, including an integrated, four-vector image-processing unit IPU) that eliminates the need for discrete GPUs in NVRs and video gateways (see Figure 2). The processors can capture video up to 4Kp30, slow-motion video at 1080p120, and 13MP stills even during 1080p video capture. They support up to three independent displays at 4K Ultra HD resolution for simple monitor setups that offer higher definition.

 

Figure 2. The new processors offer a full range of features for DSS.

 

The IPU provides high-quality, low-power video and low-light color processing, as well as state-of-the-art noise reduction and high levels of customization to allow for quick adoption of new technologies and adjustments to new requirements. Multi-frame technology further improves results by extracting high quality from videos, drawing on the data in multiple frames of the same scene.

 

Video capabilities include the ability to handle up to 15 simultaneous 1080p30 decode streams. The integrated Intel® Gen9 graphics include Intel® Quick Sync Video, a feature that speeds up encode and decode operations while reducing the load on the CPU and improving overall performance.

 

More Versatile Connectivity

Thanks to an expanded number of I/Os, the new processors make more complex DSS configurations simpler with fewer external hubs. Six USB 3.0 and four PCI Express* Gen 2.0 ports (6 lanes) enable ultra-high data transfer rates and a greatly expanded number of peripherals. Advanced connectivity options include 10/100/1000 Mbps self-adaptive Ethernet interfaces.

 

Developer Tools for More Capable DSS Solutions

DSS developers can dramatically reduce time to market through the Intel® Media Server Studio 2017. It simplifies development of media applications by offering state-of-the-art components and features for tailoring visual quality versus performance. This software enables efficient, hardware-accelerated video transcoding and real-time 4K HEVC@60fps encoding. It also supports a number of hardware-accelerated video codecs, including HEVC, H.264, VP9, and JPEG.

 

Developers can also tap the Intel® Computer Vision SDK (Intel® CV SDK), a powerful framework for the design of computer vision applications. From algorithm development to platform product optimization, it allows for the development of advanced DSS capabilities such as facial recognition, object detection, and scene analytics. It allows developers to choose from a variety of optimized building blocks or create custom kernels. Intel also provides the Intel® SDK for OpenCL™ applications, which enables developers to build, debug, and analyze their applications in less time.

 

Two Modules to Build On

Members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance already offer a variety of modules using the new processors. For instance, MSC Technologies makes the MSC C6C-AL, a COM Express Type 6 module based on the Intel Atom processor E3900 series. The MSC C6C-AL supports triple independent displays, DirectX 12, fast DDR3L memory, and 4x USB 3.0 on a compact, power-saving, and cost-efficient module (see Figure 3). Besides an extensive set of interfaces and features, the MSC C6C-AL optionally includes hardware-based security compliant with the requirements of TCG (Trusted Computing Group).

 

Figure 3. The MSC C6C-AL supports triple independent displays, DirectX 12, fast DDR3L memory, and 4x USB 3.0 on a compact module.

 

The Type 6 pin-out allows direct access to the latest digital display interfaces like DisplayPort, HDMI 1.4b, and DVI. Supporting an extended temperature range and long availability, the modules are perfectly suited for modern DSS applications such as IP cameras, IoT video gateways, and on-premises NVRs.

 

LEX Computech offers the 31390NX 3.5” motherboard with a choice of the latest Intel® Atom™, Intel® Pentium®, and Intel® Celeron® processors. Targeting high-performance applications such as NVRs in surveillance and motion control in automation (see Figure 4), this versatile board features a wide-range 9~36V DC power input, 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 3.0, 2x COM ports, and VGA, HDMI, DP, and eDP display interfaces. Using five integrated Intel® Ethernet Controller i211-ATs, LEX is able to include 4x power-over-Ethernet (PoE) ports perfect for connecting IP cameras with a single wire. Storage connections include 2x SATA ports 3.0 with data transfer rates up to 6.0 Gb/s and 1x mini card socket for mSATA.

Figure 4. The LEX 31390NX 3.5” motherboard is well designed for high-performance applications such as NVRs in surveillance and motion control in automation.

 

Solutions for a New Generation of DSS at the Edge

The latest Intel Atom, Intel Celeron, and Intel Pentium processors bring exceptional compute per-watt, integrated image and graphics processing, and determinism to small-footprint video analytics solutions. For a look at more boards, as well as systems, using these processors, visit the Alliance’s Solutions Directory.

 

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MSC Technologies is an Affiliate member and LEX Systems is a General member of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance.

 

Kenton Williston

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance

In October 2016, Intel introduced its first 14 nm chips designed specifically for IoT and embedded applications. These processors—collectively known as the Intel® Atom™ processor E3900 series—offer a long list of new features for industrial, video, and other apps (Figure 1). Intel also offers an automotive-specific processor called the Intel® Atom™ processor A3900 series.

Figure 1. The Intel® Atom™ processor E3900 series delivers excellent performance and new features for IoT edge devices.

 

In this blog, we look at how the new features of this processor family—which includes Intel® Atom™, Intel ® Pentium®, and Intel® Celeron® processors—address the demands of IoT and embedded design. We also examine three early products from members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance using this new platform.

 

Meeting edge needs for tomorrow’s IoT

With its 14 nm fabrication and embedded/IoT-specific design, the Intel Atom processor E3900 series offers a number of important advancements:

 

Better performance and I/O. The Intel Atom processor E3900 series delivers 1.7 times more computing power than the previous generation. Available in dual- and quad-core designs, the new processors run at up to 2.0 GHz (even higher with Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium processor SKUs).

 

Memory speeds and bandwidth are also improved, with support for up to LPDDR4 2400. Six USB 3.0 ports and four PCI Express* (PCIe*) ports (six lanes) expand high-speed connectivity and reduce the need for external hubs.

 

Upgraded graphics. A new graphics engine improves 3-D graphics performance by 2.9 times compared to the previous generation. The processors also feature enhanced image processing with low-light color processing and multi-frame technology.

 

Intel® Time Coordinated Computing Technology (Intel® TCC Technology). For applications requiring determinism, this new feature synchronizes peripherals and networks of connected devices. It also resolves latency issues in applications, such as robotics manufacturing, by enabling one microsecond (1 μs) timing accuracy across the network.

 

Improved security. A new Intel® Trusted Execution Engine (Intel® TXE) provides enhanced data and operations protection, keeping data away from hackers even if the OS is compromised. Secure boot is strengthened with features like Intel® Boot Guard 2.0, and new cryptographic instructions like Intel® SHA-NI Extensions are among the many security upgrades.

 

Enhanced reliability. Dual-channel ECC memory is now available when using DDR3L, helping protect against single-bit memory errors. A junction temperature range of -40°C to 110°C expands industrial use cases, and specific SKUs are qualified for automotive applications.

 

Fast, Strong Processing and Sensor Integration at the Edge

Three new products from Alliance members that use the Intel Atom processor E3900 series provide excellent examples of their utility and versatility in enabling more intelligent edge and fog devices.

 

Axiomtek ICO100 DIN-Rail Fanless Industrial System

This DIN-rail fanless embedded system uses the Intel® Atom™ processor x5-E3930 and a DDR3L SO-DIMM slot holding up to 8 GB RAM to offer a powerful solution for smart factory automation and smart energy (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. The AxiomTek ICO100 employs the Intel® Atom™ processor x5-E3930 to offer a powerful solution for smart factory automation and smart energy.

 

Measuring only 31 x 100 x 125 mm, the ICO100 provides a compact solution for an industrial IoT gateway. It includes 2x RS-232/422/485 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x VGA, and 1x DIO. Furthermore, the unit includes 2x PCIe Mini Card slots, one for an mSATA storage card and another for 3G/GPRS/Wi-Fi connections.

 

The unit’s rugged construction includes an extended temperature range of -20°C to 70°C and anti-vibration up to 2G to ensure reliable operation in harsh environments. Its wide range 12V-24V DC power input includes a lockable terminal block-type connector for industrial automation application. Overvoltage and reverse protection lowers the risk of crucial data loss.

 

Supermicro SuperServer 5029AP-TN2 Mini-Tower

Targeted for communications, print imaging, retail, and industrial applications, this mini-tower uses an Intel® Atom™ processor E3940 to pack a lot of power and I/O in a compact design (see Figure 3). The unit features up to 8GM unbuffered non-ECC DDR3, 4x 3.5" hot-swap drive bays, and 2x 2.5" fixed drive bays.

 

Figure 3. The Supermicro SuperServer 5029AP-TN2 uses an Intel® Atom™ processor E3940 to pack serious power and I/O in a compact design.

 

USB ports include 4x USB 3.0 (rear), 1x USB 2.0 (Type A), plus 2x USB 2.0 via headers. A dual GbE LAN Intel i210-AT controller provides network connection options up to 1000BASE-T. PCIe options include 1x PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 (M-key 2242/80), and 1x Mini-PCIe with mSATA.

 

The mini-tower offers a VGA, DP (Display Port), HDMI, and eDP display port. For extra security, there’s a TPM 1.2 aboard.

 

IBASE IB811 Single Board Computer (SBC)

To meet a range of power and performance needs, the IB811 SBC includes a selection of the new processors (see Figure 4). No bigger than a 3.5-inch disk, you can order it with the Intel® Atom™ processor x7-E3950, x5-E3930, Intel® Pentium processor N4200, or Intel® Celeron® processor N3350. The SBC also includes two memory sockets supporting up to 8GB of DDR3L-1866/1600 SO-DIMM modules.

Figure 4. The IBASE IB811 is a power single board computer (SBC) no bigger than a 3.5-inch disk.

 

The IB811 supports a wide-range operating temperature (-40°C to 85°C). A 9V~36V wide-voltage input makes it suitable for rugged industrial and in-vehicle applications with varying voltage input requirements. To comply with EuP/ErP standards, IB811 supports the iSMART green technology for power failure detection, power on/off scheduling, and low-temperature monitoring.

 

The IB811 supports three simultaneous displays up to 4K. Interfaces include 1.4b HDMI, DPI, and eDP/24-bit dual channel LVDS.

 

At the rear edge I/O are 1x COM, 1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, 2x GbE, and 4x USB 3.0. The board also supports 2x USB 2.0 ports via pin headers and a total of four serial ports. Other I/O includes a full-size Mini PCIe slot and an M.2 (B-key) connector.

 

Just the beginning

These three examples are just a small sampling of the solutions available with the new processor. Discover more systems and boards using these processors in the Alliance’s Solutions Directory.

 

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Axiomtek, iBase and Supermicro are Associate members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance.

 

 

Kenton Williston

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance

Back in June, we blogged about China Telecom’s evaluation of Wind River’s Titanium Server network virtualization platform. Based on a conversation with Ou Liang, Senior Engineer, Head of NFV Infrastructure Technology and Solutions at the Guangzhou Research Institute of China Telecom, we summarized the results of this evaluation.

 

At that time, Mr. Ou told us that China Telecom had completed their evaluation of Titanium Server as a platform capable of hosting a range of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) applications. He explained China Telecom’s conclusions that, unlike a community OpenStack platform, Titanium Server delivers the robustness, high-availability and high performance that is critical for their NFV deployments.

 

In this post, we’ll share an update on the work that China Telecom has done since June. In that time, they have completed a Proof-of-Concept of an end-to-end virtual IMS (vIMS) application hosted on Titanium Server, analyzing the performance, stability and scalability of the complete stack. We’ll discuss the quantifiable business impacts that they have achieved in this PoC.

 

Some background on China Telecom

 

China Telecommunications Corporation is a Chinese state-owned telecommunications company. It is the largest fixed-line service provider and the third largest mobile telecommunications provider in China, supplying 4G mobile, broadband and data center services to over 200 million of subscribers (both consumers and enterprises).

 

China Telecom sees network virtualization as a means to accelerate the deployment of fixed-line and mobile broadband functions such as vEPC, vIMS, VoLTE, video quality assurance and IoT. With their massive subscriber base, they anticipate that faster time-to-market will quickly translate into significant improvements in Average Revenue per User (ARPU) while network virtualization helps to reduce their operational expenses.

 

Mr. Ou is based at the China Telecom Guangzhou R&D Center, which is one of three China Telecom R&D centers performing research on new technologies for both data communications and mobile communications. The SDN/NFV project team at this center is responsible for technical evaluations and standards definition relating to NFV. The Titanium Server PoC was driven jointly by the Data Communications and Wireless Communications departments, with the goals of assessing the readiness of the vIMS solution, developing the technical standards, gaining experience on NFV deployments and supporting the eventual production launch of this function.

 

Critical challenges for NFV infrastructure

 

China Telecom believes that open-source software, compatible with open industry standards and based on open architectures, offers compelling benefits for NFV deployments. But they recognize a couple of significant challenges to this open-source philosophy.

 

First, open-source projects like OpenStack have traditionally been driven by the needs of enterprise IT applications. Virtualized and cloudified telecom applications, however, have much more stringent needs in areas like reliability, security and performance. Vanilla open-source projects are incapable of meeting these requirements, so challenge #1 is to find a supplier with the unique expertise to enhance and customize open-source software to create a telecom-focused solution that retains full compatibility with all the relevant open standards.

 

Second, China Telecom’s business revolves around the operation of vast telecom networks and the delivery of high-quality services. They are not, nor do they want to be, a software company that develops and maintains virtualization software platforms. Hence their second challenge, which is find a vendor with the expertise, scale and support infrastructure to reliably deliver and maintain the software platforms that they need as they deploy NFV.

 

Third, with an aggressive schedule for deploying NFV, China Telecom doesn’t have time to wait for a vendor to work out the bugs in its infrastructure solution and delay them through multiple product iterations. They need a solution that’s ready for deployment now and already proven in the market.

 

Why Wind River?

 

Mr. Ou was very clear about his four main reasons for selecting Wind River Titanium Server as a third party platform for NFV infrastructure evaluation and their subsequent PoC.

 

First, China Telecom themselves will leverage third-party NFV infrastructure vendors to achieve “three layer decoupling”, rather than a vertically-oriented NFV solution. 

 

Second, China Telecom needs a commercial, carrier grade NFV Platform that delivers significantly higher performance than a vanilla open-source Cloud Platform when running a vIMS Virtual Network Function (VNF).

 

Third, China Telecom was encouraged by the wide range of products from industry-leading partners that have been validated through the Titanium Cloud ecosystem, like Huawei’s vIMS used in the PoC. The validation process that Wind River’s partners are required to follow guarantees interoperability with all the relevant open standards. This enables China Telecom to achieve the highly efficient three layer decoupling that is fundamental to their NFV strategy.

 

Fourth, China Telecom confirmed through their earlier evaluation that Titanium Server delivers the service reliability, security and performance that they need. As Mr. Ou explained at the completion of their evaluation, “Our testing requirements demanded ultra-reliability, robust and real-time forwarding performance in which high availability is a chief consideration concerning NFVI. Titanium Server helped us explore whether the hierarchical decoupling of the NFV infrastructure could be feasible. It also delivered on the key need for a commercial ready NFVI platform to be the foundation for our demanding test scenarios.”

 

The vIMS PoC

 

For their vIMS PoC, China Telecom tested virtual IMS VNFs from Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE, all hosted on third party NFV platforms including Titanium Server. The end-to-end application ran on industry-standard white-box servers from Intel and other manufacturers. This three layer decoupling enabled them to readily test and validate interoperability between vendors as well as compatibility with open standards.

 

Testing of this multi-vendor environment focused on stability, robustness, real-time forwarding performance and maintenance. The performance goals were impressive: two million simultaneous users and 2.4 million Busy-Hour Call Attempts (BHCA).

 

As well as the purely technical aspects of the PoC, China Telecom also paid close attention to how their various vendors worked together to ensure the smooth execution of the complex test plan.

 

The end result: quantifiable benefits

 

Having completed this PoC, China Telecom was able to report the following key results:

  • They reduced their development time by three months compared to alternative NFVI solutions;
  • They cut their testing and qualification costs by 30%;
  • They achieved increased productivity and collaboration within their engineering staff.

 

When you’re a service provider as large as China Telecom, these kinds of time and cost savings translate into massive ROI improvements as soon as the solution is deployed.

 

We’re delighted by the success of our collaboration with China Telecom on their vIMS use case and we’re very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with China Telecom Guangzhou R&D Center. We look forward to future joint programs as they expand their NFV deployments to include other functions such as potentially virtual EPC.

NFV: growing up and putting Operations in the hot seat

 

As service providers move away from Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) Proof-of-Concepts (PoCs) and start working on actual deployments, the spotlight now falls on a wide range of operational issues. The Operations teams have to figure out how they’re going to install, commission, maintain and upgrade all this new technology while at the same time maintaining the level of uptime that their customers demand and still achieving the OPEX savings that represent a basic premise of NFV.

 

Just in time for this phase of operationalizing NFV, Wind River has released an upgrade to the Titanium Server network virtualization platform, incorporating a wealth of features that streamline network operations and enable service provider Operations teams to achieve the efficiencies that they’re looking for.

In this post, we’ll highlight some of these new features and outline the business-level benefits that they deliver.

 

Designed for operational efficiency

 

Release 3 of Titanium Server leverages the experience that we’ve gained through countless engagements with service providers, Telecom Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs) and ecosystem partners ever since we launched Titanium Server at the start of 2014. As the first (and so far only) network virtualization platform that delivers the uptime, security and performance needed for real deployments in commercial telecom networks, Titanium Server has been selected as the NFV infrastructure platform for a range of edge, access and core use cases. Our experts have worked with customers worldwide to ensure that we fully understand their needs for operational efficiencies so that we can provide the technology that enables them to meet those goals.

 

In-service upgrades and patching

 

IT departments live by planned outages. Send out an email saying that the CRM system will be down from 10.00pm on Saturday until 6.00am on Sunday, then everyone else can have a life while the IT guys take down the system, do their upgrade and even roll it back if it fails. No business impact and everyone is happy.

Telecom service providers don’t have that luxury. They’ve have spent decades implementing complex systems and processes that allow them to keep their networks up 24x7, while implementing system upgrades and patches seamlessly so their customers experience no downtime. But those systems are based on purpose-built telco hardware and software.

 

NFV is different: it leverages enterprise-class, open-source software like OpenStack that was never designed to deliver telco reliability. So to develop Titanium Server, Wind River established a team of experts who have long experience in building telco-class software and paired them with other folks with a deep knowledge of OpenStack. Together, they developed a set of OpenStack plug-ins, operational enhancements and automated procedural mechanisms that enable Titanium Server to deliver full Carrier Grade uptime (six-nines availability) while being based on standard open-source OpenStack releases, currently Mitaka. (They also upstream telecom-oriented patches to the community to improve its overall reliability for everyone.)

 

The new version of Titanium Server incorporates an integrated, system-aware upgrade wizard that automates the entire upgrade process. First, running Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) are live migrated from one node to another (even those using DPDK). Then the OS, OpenStack components, hypervisor and Virtualization Infrastructure Manager (VIM) are upgraded along with the rest of the Titanium Server package. Messages, logs and alarms provide full visibility into the process. Rollback points are created for controlled fallback, if required, and all system data is reformatted and migrated.

 

This results in a system-wide upgrade that’s risk-free for service providers and completely transparent to customers, who see no service degradation or downtime. Titanium Server allows service providers to leverage virtualization technology originally developed for enterprise IT while maintaining the service continuity that their business reputation depends on.

 

Legacy infrastructure (brownfield environments) and multi-region support

Until Mars One or SpaceX succeeds beyond even their wildest dreams and all of a sudden we have hundreds of people living on Mars with an immediate need for non-stop Facebook and Instagram access, there are no true “greenfield” opportunities for NFV.

 

Rather than starting from scratch and deploying networks that are 100% based on network virtualization, service providers must face the challenge of progressively introducing virtualization into their existing, legacy networks already in use by their established customer base. At the same time, they need to ensure that these customers suffer no degradation in service while the new network technologies are deployed.

 

From the perspective of network operations, multi-region clouds present a similar challenge. Many service providers already leverage virtualization within their telco clouds, even if it doesn’t provide the level of reliability, performance or security required for NFV. They need to integrate their NFV deployments with these existing cloud environments.

 

Release 3 of Titanium Server was designed to mitigate the operational risks and issues associated with introducing NFV into live “brownfield” environments based on traditional physical equipment and/or existing clouds. Titanium Server provides comprehensive support for a federated, multi-region network architecture. A Carrier Grade region based on Titanium Server can be added to an existing enterprise-class cloud. Similarly, a Titanium Server-based KVM hypervisor region can be added to an existing cloud based on an enterprise-class VMware hypervisor. In both cases, the integration between the two clouds can include the common management of users, images and volumes

 

System visibility and alarms

 

The operations personnel responsible for the smooth running of service provider networks need to have the right level of visibility into what’s going on “under the hood” within their infrastructure. As they introduce NFV, it’s important that the virtualization platform they adopt should present them with the appropriate level of operational information without overwhelming them with screens of unnecessary or confusing data.

 

The latest version of Titanium Server includes a variety of dashboards that provide operators with a range of clear status information about their networks, while allowing them to customize their displays to present the information that is most appropriate and valuable at any point in time.

 

Operators have clear access to physical server inventory data covering their compute, control and storage nodes. They benefit from integrated discovery, provisioning, configuration and management controls elegantly presented in the familiar Horizon style.

 

Comprehensive visual aids assist in configuring and troubleshooting both provider networks and tenant networks. The “Software Management” dashboard enables the definition of custom strategies for deploying patches to all nodes in the system.

 

The fault management system integrated within Titanium Server enables network operators to view critical, major, minor and warning alarms, while also providing a hierarchical search capability for both alarms and logs. Alarms can be suppressed manually so that operators see only those alerts that they define as having the greatest value. A ubiquitous, color-coded alarm banner ensures rapid visibility into system health, regardless of which section of the user interface is being accessed at any one time.

 

For more information

 

This post has only scratched the surface of the new features in Titanium Server, all designed to streamline the operation of service provider networks as NFV moves into real deployments. If you’d like to know more, please check out the information online or contact us to arrange a face-to-face discussion.

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