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Core Duo - Intel's Best CPU? 305

Bender writes "How good is Intel's Core Duo mobile processor? Good enough that Apple chose to put it in the iMac, and good enough that Intel chose to base its next generation microprocessor architecture on it. But is it already Intel's best CPU? The Tech Report has managed to snag a micro-ATX motherboard for this processor and compared the Core Duo directly to a range of mobile and desktop CPUs from AMD and Intel, including the Athlon 64 X2 and the Pentium Extreme Edition. The results are surprising. Not only is the Core Duo's performance per watt better than the rest, but they conclude that its 'outright performance is easily superior to Intel's supposed flagship desktop processor, the Pentium Extreme Edition 965.'"
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Core Duo - Intel's Best CPU?

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  • by Sonic McTails ( 700139 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:45AM (#15148424)
    I have to say the Intel Dual Core Processor is quite impressive. It's fast enough to run just about anything I throw at it, and still keep chugging, but I believe that the article negects the fact that the dual core processor runs extremely hot vs other Intel processor. My old Sony VAIO never got as hot as my MacBook Pro does, and it is something that should be considered.
    • You're not even close to how a Prescott would feel in a laptop...

      The Vaio AFAIK contains a Pentium M - which means they're on the very cool end of Intel processors.
      • There's not a huge difference between Pentium-M and Core Duo due to the dieshrink.

        Pentium-M 2.26GHz 90nm 27W
        Core Duo 2.16GHz 65mn 31W

        Of course, there's low-watt versions of all of these.
        • Key word in my answer: Prescott . You just skipped that word did you?

          None of the Pentium M processors uses a Prescott core, with a TDP in the ranging from 84 to 115 W. As I said, Core Duo isn't even close...
    • Its hard to believe anything outside the orbit of Mercury could run hot when comparied to Intel's other products. WTF? Does this thing actually brand "Intel Inside" directly onto your thighs if you actually hold it on your lap? Are all laptop cases now going to be made out of left over tiles from the Space Shuttle program? Will I need to wear my fire department issued gnomex bunker pants to use this thing? Will they be selling carbon fiber tablecloths as accessories? Will I need to carry a 5 gallon w
    • Never used the VAIO, but this may have more to do with the aluminum case of the PowerBook than the processor itself. It really lets you FEEL the heat!
    • One of the worst things about the Intel switch is that we will never see a laptop (or desktop) that runs MacOS X with one of those. [freescale.com]

      A good slim laptop with 10 hours battery life may have been possible.
    • That's the fault of the MacBook Pro in my experience. Have a MBP and a Dell Inspiron E1505 with the same Core Duo CPU. The Dell works on my lap, the MacBook works on the desk ONLY.
  • Depends (Score:5, Informative)

    by 2.7182 ( 819680 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:46AM (#15148432)
    I would argue that the 8080 was. If you normalize for date/speed that is...
    • I think the 6502 was clock-for-clock faster.

      True fact: The minimalistic 6502 (which had been used in Acorn's BBC micro & predecessors) was the inspiration for the ARM RISC CPU (formerly Acorn Risc Machine, then renamed as Advanced Risc Machine).
      • Re:Depends (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I wrote micro interpreters at Infocom. My 1MHz Apple II 6502 interpreter was 80% fast as the 6MHz PC AT 80286 interpreter.

    • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:11AM (#15148687) Homepage
      At the time it was introduced, there was no other microprocessor that came close to matching it.

      It was indisputably not only the best microprocessor Intel had produced to date, but the best microprocessor on the market.

      Simply no contest. No argument. It superlative in every way, the fastest, the cheapest, the lowest in power consumption, the most advanced in architecture, the widest path. It was king of the hill, the top of the tree, the Cadillac of microprocessors, the ne plus ultra, it bestrode the world of microprocessors like a colossus.

      The world will never again see the day when one manufacturer so dominated the microprocessor market that a single product had a 100.0% market share.
      • There are likely lots of niche markets where one microprocessor has 100% market, share, it's just that the home/desktop PC market isnt so much of a niche anymore.. and even so, was it really 100%? I just can't help disagreeing with gross generalisation, sorry :p
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Son, I say, son, that's a joke, son, when it was the first microprocessor on the market, with no competitors. By definition, it would be the fastest, cheapest, coolest, et cetera, as there is nothing else for means of comparison.

          Goddamn, are all the UIDs over 500000 stupid 13-year-old kids who don't understand English?
        • It was 100%.

          It was 100.0%.

          It was 100.00000000000%.

          Everything I stated was indisputable objective fact, not opinion.
          • 100% if it created its own market, sure. I've not traditionally been interested in the history of PCs (when I say PCs I mean x86 'IBM PC's, not personal computers in general), but thankyou for informing me :p
            • Well, it wasn't just important in the history of PCs. The introduction of the 4004 was a pivotal event in the history of electronics (right up there with the Audion, the Klystron, and the transistor itself) and in the history of computing (same league as the Norden bombsight, the ENIAC, and the IBM 360).

              If you don't know what those are, either, you may find that they are really quite worth finding out about.

              • yup, I've done a Computing Science degree, but havent heard of the Audion, Klystron, Norden bombsite or ENIAC.. maybe shouldnt have skipped so many lectures in 3rd and 4th year, though most of the history we learned tended to be about software/coding than the hardware.
      • It was indisputably not only the best microprocessor Intel had produced to date, but the best microprocessor on the market.... The world will never again see the day when one manufacturer so dominated the microprocessor market that a single product had a 100.0% market share.

        Indisputably if you ignore the Motorola 6800 and the MOS 6502 and the Z80. Even if you did ignore them, you still wouldn't end up with 100% microprocessor market share for the 8080.

        • Indisputably if you ignore the Motorola 6800 and the MOS 6502 and the Z80. Even if you did ignore them, you still wouldn't end up with 100% microprocessor market share for the 8080.

          Dude, he wasn't talking about the 8080. He was talking about the 4004. And trust me, that processor really did have 100% market share.

  • by BobPaul ( 710574 ) * on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:50AM (#15148471) Journal
    It's not obvious from the article, but you can find it elsewhere on the internet (such as Intel's comment that the Core microarchitecture will provide 20% boost over CoreDuo). It is hinted at in the article with the following quote (emphasis mine).
    If you've been hanging around here for a while, you may have heard us referring to Core Duo by its code name, Yonah, long before Intel decided to give it a somewhat confusing official name. ... In the case of the Core Duo, those CPU cores are massaged and tweaked versions of the Pentium M processor, familiar as part of Intel's Centrino mobile platform.

    The new core microarchitecture, if you read the Ars Technica article in the previousl /. posting linked, was designed from the ground up and is similar to PentiumM in many respects, but is much more different than the CoreSolo and CoreDuo are.
    • I was wondering on that myself, as i would have expected a "core" cpu to be even faster.

      Just for those who dont know, improvements in the "core"-core are stuff like twice the shedulers, superscalar sse-x with duplicated units (so 2 identical commands can be committed per clockcycle, no only combinations) and 4 integer units.

      But as much as i like those spec, the naming SUCKS. Yeah, the core architecture is new, but shouldnt be confused with the architecture of core duo, which is a dual core cpu, in contrast
    • by MrFlibbs ( 945469 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:10AM (#15148672)
      The new Merom-based products (Conroe is the desktop version) were *NOT* designed from the ground up. The Ars Technica article repeated some Intel marketspeak that overstates the case. Merom is a major revision of Yonah, but is derived from the same code base. In fact, it is still technically a derivative of the P6 family that began with the Pentium Pro 10 years ago.

      This is more than just a matter of semantics. The major micro-architectural features that defined the P6 are still present in Merom. The P4 architecture (may it rest in peace) was a brand new architecture -- Merom is not.
      • Code base? They use source code to design processors? The last time I visited a chip design facility (many years ago) they were drawing traces graphically.
        • by uarch ( 637449 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:55AM (#15149818)
          Yeah, they use both HDL coding and EDA (cad-like) tools to design most microprocessors. The designs are too massive to design them by placing each wire manually - they haven't done that for _several_ generations (1980s? - not sure really)

          That's not to say there isn't a small army of design engineers at Intel and AMD who work with nothing but schematics - there are. Its just that most of the logic design work is done on the HDL coding level (with either VHDL, IHDL, Verilog, or some other tool). You only start dealing with schematics at a much later stage of development. Until then your designs are constantly changing and its infinitely easy/faster to change a few lines of HDL code than to re-write hundreds/thousands of wires and transistors.

          I've worked at both Intel and AMD in the past and in both cases you could take the entire codebase for a processor (HDL, microcode, ROM, etc), compile it with the right HDL compiler and run the entire thing with small test programs as a simulator. Thats how much of the validation/verification work is done before they make the masks.

          As for using the old code bases... That's done a lot. There's just too much complexity and too little time for them to re-write every processor from scratch. You also have countless hours invested in making sure previous designs work. If you're only doing small changes it would be hard to justfy building something from scratch since you'll have to do all of that validation work again.
      • Merom is a major revision of Yonah, but is derived from the same code base. In fact, it is still technically a derivative of the P6 family that began with the Pentium Pro 10 years ago.

        To those of us old enough to remember, it looks more like part of the family that started with the CDC 6600 over 40 years go. :-) For anybody who cares to look, Design of a Computer: The CDC 6600 [bitsavers.org] (Warning: PDF), describes what may well be the greatest microarchitecture ever. It's by Jim Thornton, who was (to quote Seymou

  • Hotter the Better (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dueyfinster ( 872608 )
    You're forgetting all those students with Laptops, one I know said his laptop was so hot, he'd leave it on his bed before going to sleep, as the accommodation had substandard heating (the norm for all student places, no?)
  • Even more reviews (Score:5, Informative)

    by adam1101 ( 805240 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:53AM (#15148511)
    More reviews here [vr-zone.com] and here [extremetech.com].
  • Common Knowledge (Score:3, Insightful)

    by John Jamieson ( 890438 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:53AM (#15148517)
    I thought this was commonly known or assumed. Is this news to many people?

    I thought that the only reason the P4 had not been totally abandoned already was that it takes time to switch directions in such a massive company. (and with so many partners that design around your product)
    • It's news for anyone who hasn't owned an x86 machine for over 10 years, and therefore never bothered to follow developments on the "other side."
  • Of course its Intel's best performing desktop processor. It is not like the P4 has set the bar particularly high, with the unfavourable heat production these processors have. Maybe if the P4 scaled as well as Intel initally hoped for, it would be a more difficult task to design a better processor.
  • by c0l0 ( 826165 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:56AM (#15148544) Homepage
    ...actually show ANYTHING really well, then it's the absolute neglibility of recent synthetic benchmarks. Looking at the numbers SiSoft Sandra spills out, the clocked-to-the-brim Netburst-cores should take the performance-crown with ease in FPU and ALU-applications alike. In reality though, said CPUs hardly matter at all when it's about uncompromising peak-performance. I fail to understand why benchmark-suites this far away from reality still matter in reviews like this.
    Sad, in an awkward way.
  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Core Duo is a 32bit processor.
    Athlon 64 X2 is a 64bit processor.

    I care not how much power it uses or how well it runs Word or whatever else they are doing to test these things.

    The Core Duo cannot do the same things the Athlon 64 X2 can. Largely because (gasp) it cannot run 64bit code.

    What the hell is the point of this comparison?
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DrDitto ( 962751 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:03AM (#15148611)
      The reason for going to 64-bits is to increase the amount of physical address space, not for speed. The majority of applications, especially integer, do not benefit from bigger registers and wider ALUs.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:17AM (#15148736) Homepage Journal
        Actually, x86-64 does have some speed benefits over standard ia32 for smaller programs and data sets in that it doubles the number of exposed registers. Most other archs were not register starved on the 32 bit version, so going 64 bit generally slowed the system down a bit because the pointer size doubled, taking more memory bandwidth to store pointers.
        • Actually, x86-64 does have some speed benefits over standard ia32 for smaller programs and data sets in that it doubles the number of exposed registers.

          But unfortunately to *access* the extra registers, you have to use extra prefixes/suffixes on the instructions (because x86-64's instruction set is a strict superset), which makes them longer, which eats up more Icache. The small benefit of having the extra registers visible to the compiler is often reduced or squashed entirely by a few percent more cache ch
        • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

          by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:28AM (#15149481)
          The "more registers" with x86-64 has been massively overhyped. There's very little real world benefit.

          For example: AMD's claims about UT2004 being 20% faster in 64-bit mode turned out to be bogus (more like 2%).
      • Mod parent down -1, ignorant.

        The x86_64 additions *DO* help performance in many real-world examples from MPEG encoders to cryptographic algorithms to various other register intense algorithms.

        As for your last sentence that's so wrong I don't know where to begin.

        Look into how much a stack spill costs compared to just using a register to hold a value. Then tell me x86_64 doesn't help.

        Also keep in mind not all registers are 64-bit. You can access the *EXTRA* registers as 64-bits, 32-bits, 16-bits and 8-bits
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <.moc.yggorhp. .ta. .3todhsals.> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:17AM (#15148740) Homepage
      The Core Duo cannot do the same things the Athlon 64 X2 can. Largely because (gasp) it cannot run 64bit code.

      What the hell is the point of this comparison?

      You're correct, of course. However, many of us don't need to run 64-bit code. You can completely ignore this, because any 32-bit CPU doesn't fit your needs, but please try to understand that other people need different things.
    • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:22AM (#15148786)

      The Core Duo cannot do the same things the Athlon 64 X2 can. Largely because (gasp) it cannot run 64bit code.

      I drive an 18 wheeler, and I can't imagine why anyone would want a passenger car. You can't haul near the same amount of goods!
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <william@chuang.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:25AM (#15148831) Homepage
      Hate to say this, but there are not that many uses for 64 bit processors yet. Manufacturers do not provide 64-bit drivers for their products. The drivers that exist are buggy. To the average Joe, 64-bit is useless. He doesn't need the extra horsepower for his Internet browser or word processor. Well, unless Vista comes out.
    • The Core Duo cannot do the same things the Athlon 64 X2 can. Largely because (gasp) it cannot run 64bit code.

      Such as? A 64 bit chip generally means that you'll be addressing gobs (>4GB) of memory. Since that isn't a concern at the moment, Intel hasn't rushed EMT64 [wikipedia.org] into their laptop chips. However, EMT64 will be in the Merom [wikipedia.org] processor, scheduled for late this year.

      AMD has both Turion and Sempron 64 bit processors available for mobile platforms, but you may notice that they are very difficult to find in n
    • Re:What? (Score:2, Interesting)

      Who wants a EMT64/AMD64 in a mobile processor? it serves no purpose. I think the AMD fanboys are realising that the sleeping giant is waking up...
      • I hate people like you. There are more benefits to x86_64 than just the friggin extra address lines.

        Consider how you write software now. At best you have a few GPRs to work with. Even with register renaming [which all modern x86 processors have] you get at best, let me repeat, at *BEST* serialized performance.

        Extra registers means you can do various things at once. Consider a simple loop like

        for (x = 0; x 1000; x++) {
        t[x].p[2*x] += s[x].q[3*x];
  • Benchmarks (Score:3, Informative)

    by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:59AM (#15148575) Homepage
    I already posted some benchmarks of a Core Duo Mac Mini running Windows (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=182379&cid=15 077120 [slashdot.org]) and to be honest I was fairly impressed. The gaming benchmark was obviously miserable, the "general purpose" benchmark (zipping files, encoding audio/video, etcdid very well. The Apple zealots may say "it's because it's a Mac", but really the hardware is almost identical to your average Intel laptop. The only major difference is the Core Duo, which not many laptops have (although that's increasing all the time), and that's what I'm putting my money on. Can't wait to see a benchmark with this thing in a gaming rig.
  • No way! (Score:2, Funny)

    by thetaco82 ( 791202 )
    So, Intel's new 65nm process is better than their older processes? Weird...
  • I just got a new 2.0 Core Duo iMac and it feels a lot more powerful than my old P4 2.8 GHz Sony PC.

    I know it's subjective, and I'm now running OS X instead of Windows, but still -- I definately *feels* more powerful.

    • I just got a new 2.0 Core Duo iMac and it feels a lot more powerful than my old P4 2.8 GHz Sony PC.

      How much RAM in each system? What kind of video card? Shared AGP or dedicated video memory?
  • by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:06AM (#15148644) Homepage
    "But Yonah also supports the group of 13 new instructions known as SSE3, handles some SSE2 instructing like Shuffle and Unpack up to 30% faster, and is capable of using its instruction-grouping abilities (known as micro-ops fusion) on some SSE instructions, improving overall throughput."

    SSE3 has some very nice hardware thread synchronization instructions. These are important (and AMD has them now). As for the instruction grouping, that sounds rather suspiciously like the double dispatch operations [chip-architect.com] that were added to Opteron:
    "Appendix C of Opteron's Optimization Guide specifies to which class each and every instruction belongs. Most 128 bit SSE and SSE2 instructions are implemented as double dispatch instructions. Only those that can not be split into two independent 64 bit operations are handled as Vector Path (Micro Code) instructions. Those SSE2 instructions that operate on only one half of a 128 bit register are implemented as a single (Direct Path) instruction."

    Assuming AMD can tune Turion64s to be more power friendly, they'll be able to best Intel's fancy new Core Duo. If they can't, then Intel may be the best game in town for the first time in a decade (assuming they price competitively).
  • by danpsmith ( 922127 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:07AM (#15148654)
    Looks like AMD still has them beat. From my take on this, on pure performance, the 3800+ X2 is going toe-to-toe and the 4800+ X2 is beating it every single time. So again, not that impressive. Now the per watt performance is important in some applications, so I can see why it would be a better, say, mobile platform than the AMD chips. But let's not pretend that Intel is winning the benchmarks with this quite yet.
  • I think we could all see this coming. The Prescott Pentium 4's were never that great compared to the competition. They sucked tons of power, were hotter than hell, and the performance really wasn't all that great compared to the competition.

    The Pentium M on the other hand had a much better core design. It just lacked the connectivity of the Pentium 4 because it used socket 478 and similar older technologies. These new Core Duo's are the logical extension to the already good Pentium M line. I wish Inte
    • What is so bad about the Tyan motherboards, e.g. the Thunder K8W? Rock solid, and quite fast.
      • Yeah but you have to add an expensive drive controller to get decent disk performance. Those SiI3114 chipsets suck.

        The Intel disk chipsets on the other hand are extremely good as far as built-in chipsets go. The only competitor would be one of the nVidia chipset boards but all of those have caused me nothing but trouble.
        • For what, SCSI? How much more is an Adaptec or Promise SATA controller card? Hmm...

          Hint: Stop buying your stuff at Best Buy or Circuit City.

          The chips you're talking about are the Northbridge/Southbridge chips. They manage I/O for devices and memory and CPU, but they're not the actual disk drive controllers.

          If you want disk performance, you should be putting in SCSI anyways, and yes, that costs $$$ (But I got an Adaptec 2960 SCSI-II card on eBay a few years ago for only about $70...).

          for any SCSI haters, you
  • by vchoy ( 134429 )
    From the article: ...The T2600 can't quite take the overall performance crown from the likes of the Athlon 64 FX-60 or the X2 4800+, but jeez, it's startlingly close....

    Given the T2600 runs at 2.16ghz

    Compare this to

    AMD 4800+ 2.4ghz

    it really does seem the 'Mhz = performance' is well and truely over...and for the first time Intel seems to be saying to AMD "We too can play your Mhz mean 'nuffin game'"

    Again...the test results maybe affected by the chipsets used for the different processor architectures, which i
  • Practical experiance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weiserfireman ( 917228 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:23AM (#15148801) Homepage
    Just this week, I received a brand new HP nx9420 laptop with a 1.83Ghz Duo processor. I use this laptop for 3D Solid CAD/CAM applications. For my application, it is definately faster. The CAM rendering is faster, the part rotation is smoother. Overall very efficient. I have done some stress testing by doing some long database queries at the same time I am rendering a part. My old computers would have joked. There is a noticable hit on rendering performance, but it is still able to complete both tasks in a reasonable manner. We have the same CAD/CAM software on a 1.6Ghz PentiumM Laptop and two 2.8GHz Pentium-4 desktop machines. All the machines have 1024MB of RAM, and the two Desktops have 256MB video cards. I have not noticed that heat issues that other folks have mentioned, but I don't hold it in my lap either. So far I am very impressed.
  • by delire ( 809063 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:27AM (#15148851)
    Not only is the Core Duo's performance per watt better than the rest [...]
    Why then is the battery life in the MacBooks so miserly?
  • by mcbridematt ( 544099 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:32AM (#15148893) Homepage Journal
    I think its extreme pricewhore time for AMD, apart from a new Socket with DDR2 - which solves a problem which has never really existed at AMD* (I still enjoy my Opterons NUMA as much as the next person though :) ), although DDR2 still brings some benefits none the less.

    * Apart from the Athlon MP, whose usefullness apart from a low low cost SMP server platform disappeared when stuff started to demand more bandwidth. A Uniprocessor Duron on an nForce2 owns it on anything where AGP and memory bandwidth comes into play!
  • Keep in mind that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sgent ( 874402 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:59AM (#15149177)
    Intel's lead is mostly a manufactoring one -- 65nm process. AMD still uses 90nm. Not to discount Intel's advantage, but AMD doesn't need a new core design to continue their dominance -- merely a new manufactoring facility (which is hard, but not as hard as the design).
    • by Asic Eng ( 193332 )
      Are you sure about that? I would think it's just the opposite. This article [semiconduc...nology.com] gives the costs of the AMD 65nm facility in Dresden as $2.4 billion over 4 years. I'd be surprised if the digital design expenditure would look significant in comparison. That said, it looks like the fab should come online this year, so Intel won't have that advantage for long. If they were just starting to develop a 65nm facility now, I'd be very worried for them, though.
    • The problem is, Intel is way ahead on their 45nm manufacturing process, which could virtually negate AMD's 65nm step. (Intel says they're going to be ready in 2007, which is when everyone expects the new AMD 65nm fab to come online).

      If Intel could get to 45nm before AMD even gets to 65nm, you could kiss any performance gain that 65nm would lend AMD totally goodbye. (There's no telling how likely it is that this could happen, but seeing as both Intel and AMD are putting a great deal of their resources int
  • The iMac is very impressive - fast and responsive even with a full load of video encoders going (handbrake & ffmpegx). Even with those going I was still able to get Firefox open and loaded a site before the pc could get started getting the graphics for a site. The pc was only busy copying a 1.2GB file from the iMac.

    Pc specs - 3.0Ghz P4 w/ HT Northwood core, 1GB memory.

    iMac specs - stock Intel iMac with 1.5GB memory (+600MB memory unused).

    The combination of OS X and CoreDuo has made me a very ha
  • Hard-Core (Score:3, Funny)

    by leabre ( 304234 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:27PM (#15152814)
    I'm waiting for the Intel Hard-Core Extreme Edition: Keep your servers up and running all night, watch them scream.

    Uhmmm... count me in.


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