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AMD Releases Specifications On The Radeon Pro 400 Series Graphics

If you were wondering what the exact specs were on AMD's Polaris-imbued Radeon Pro 400 series of graphics cards, recently announced to be the driving GPUs on the 15-inch MacBook Pro, you need not imagine what they could be anymore. Under their "Meet the Creators" program, the company has now published the specifications.

From top to bottom, the Radeon Pro 460 packs a total of 16 Compute Units (CUs), totalling 1024 stream processors, with peak theoretical performance of up to 1.86 teraflops. The middle of pack Radeon Pro 455 cuts those to 12 CUs and 768 stream processors, with peak theoretical performance of up to 1.3 teraflops. Finally, the lowest performer of the bunch is the Radeon Pro 450, which features only 10 CUs (640 stream processors) and has a theoretical bandwidth of up to 1 teraflops. Also of note is the fact that all three of the parts leverage the same 80 Gb/s memory bandwidth.

AMD's Q3 2016 Earnings Call - Revenue is Up, Debt is Down

AMD today released their earnings call for 3Q 2016, giving us some interesting tidbits in regards to their financial robustness. The balance of AMD's economics seems to be pending towards better execution, and, coeteris paribus, a much better outlook for the coming quarters, after the monumental missteps in the past that almost threw AMD under the proverbial bus. Reception for the results seems to be a tangled mess, however, with some sides claiming that AMD beat expectations, while others prefer to draw attention to AMD's 2% stock decline since the report was outed.

AMD posted revenue of $1,307 million, up 27% sequentially and 23% year-over-year. This revenue was distributed unevenly through AMD's divisions, though. "Computing and Graphics" segment revenue was $472 million, up 9% from Q2 2016, primarily due to increased GPU sales (where Polaris picked up the grunt of the work, being responsible for 50% of AMD's GPU revenue), offset by lower sales of client desktop processors and chipsets; whereas "Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom" segment revenue was $835 million, up 41% sequentially, primarily due to record semi-custom SoC sales (such as those found in Microsoft's XBOX One and Sony's PS4 and upcoming PS4 Pro).

NVIDIA Claws Back Console Chips Business: Nintendo Switch Announced

After months of speculation, the lid is off Nintendo's "NX" project, with the company finally announcing today its much-awaited games console, the Nintendo Switch. With an expected release slated for March 2017, the console blurs the line between a games console and a handheld device, by making use of a docking station which will allow it to connect to a television, much like a traditional games console, while instantly entering a so called "portable mode" when it is undocked. As both a console and a portable device, the Nintendo Switch will use cartridges known as Game Cards, displaying games in a "high definition display" embedded on the console while on the go, with two detachable Joy-Con controllers stepping in as input devices.

For PC hardware enthusiasts, that may not be all too interesting. What is arguably more interesting is that this games console will make use of NVIDIA hardware: most notably, a custom Tegra processor is the one pulling out all of the console's processing needs, with the graphics being served by what the company calls "the same architecture as the world's top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards."

AMD to Supply Cloud Server Chips to China's Alibaba

In another business-deal-gone-right for Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in chinese soil, the company is now going to provide China's Alibaba giant with server chips with which to power the company's cloud vision. Whilst Alibaba is most commonly known due to its e-commerce activities (through the Aliexpress and Taobao brands), the chinese company is diversifying, even going so far as entering the entertainment space. Now, Alibaba is bidding to carve itself an even larger piece of the cloud market from the likes of Microsoft's Azure and Amazon's Web Services.

The deal was announced this Friday at the Alibaba Computing Conference by Lisa Su (AMD's CEO) and Simon Hu (president of Alibaba Cloud, the chinese giant's cloud computing arm). Through it, AMD will see its Radeon Pro chips supporting and expanding upon the increasingly-in-demand cloud computing capabilities of the chinese company, which already powers around 35% of China's websites.

GPU Market to Surpass 67.61 Million by 2020

The global graphics processing unit (GPU) market 2016-2020 report says the increasing adoption of integrated GPUs over discrete GPUs is one of the major trends witnessed in the global GPU market. Currently, there is increasing adoption of integrated GPUs, which are used in notebooks, desktops, and workstations across the globe.

This increasing adoption is mainly attributed to the growing need of enhanced visual content by end-consumers. In addition, end-consumers are demanding high memory graphics in their systems. In order to meet such demands, graphic processor vendors are providing high graphics through integrated GPUs. Thus, the increasing adoption of integrated GPUs over discrete GPUs is one of major trends that is propelling the growth of the market. Complete report on graphics processing unit market spread across 58 pages, analyzing major companies and providing 30 data exhibits is now available here.

NVIDIA Unveils Palm-Sized, Energy-Efficient AI Computer for Self-Driving Cars

NVIDIA today unveiled a palm-sized, energy-efficient artificial intelligence (AI) computer that automakers can use to power automated and autonomous vehicles for driving and mapping. The new single-processor configuration of the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 AI computing platform for AutoCruise functions -- which include highway automated driving and HD mapping -- consumes just 10 watts of power and enables vehicles to use deep neural networks to process data from multiple cameras and sensors. It will be deployed by China's Baidu as the in-vehicle car computer for its self-driving cloud-to-car system.

DRIVE PX 2 enables automakers and their tier 1 suppliers to accelerate production of automated and autonomous vehicles. A car using the small form-factor DRIVE PX 2 for AutoCruise can understand in real time what is happening around it, precisely locate itself on an HD map and plan a safe path forward. "Bringing an AI computer to the car in a small, efficient form factor is the goal of many automakers," said Rob Csongor, vice president and general manager of Automotive at NVIDIA. "NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 in the car solves this challenge for our OEM and tier 1 partners, and complements our data center solution for mapping and training."

AMD GPUs See Lesser Performance Drop on "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided" DirectX 12

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the latest AAA title to support DirectX 12, with its developer Eidos deploying a DirectX 12 renderer weeks after its release, through a patch. Guru3D put the DirectX 12 version of the game through five GPU architectures, AMD "Polaris," GCN 1.1, GCN 1.2, NVIDIA "Pascal," and NVIDIA "Maxwell," through Radeon RX 480, Radeon R9 Fury X, Radeon R9 390X, GeForce GTX 1080, GeForce GTX 1060, and GeForce GTX 980. The AMD GPUs were driven by RSCE 16.9.1 drivers, and NVIDIA by GeForce 372.70.

Looking at the graphs, switching from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12 mode, AMD GPUs not only don't lose frame-rates, but in some cases, even gain frame-rates. NVIDIA GPUs, on the other hand, significantly lose frame-rates. AMD GPUs tend to hold on to their frame-rates at 4K Ultra HD, marginally gain frame-rates at 2560 x 1440, and further gain frame-rates at 1080p. NVIDIA GPUs either barely hold on to their frame-rates, or significantly lose them. AMD has on multiple occasions claimed that its Graphics CoreNext architecture, combined with its purist approach to asynchronous compute make Radeon GPUs a better choice for DirectX 12 and Vulkan. Find more fascinating findings by Guru3D here.
More graphs follow.

AMD Polaris 10 "Ellesmere" Die Shot Confirms Max Shader Count

An AMD Polaris 10 "Ellesmere" based graphics card (RX 470 or RX 480) was taken apart down to its die, for science. Close up die-shots of the silicon reveal that 36 GCN compute units is all that the silicon has, and that the RX 480 indeed maxes out this stream processor count, with 2,304 stream processors at its disposal.

The die is fabbed by GlobalFoundries, on its swanky new 14 nm FinFET process. Redditors good at pattern-recognition could make out 36 "structures" spread across four quadrants, deducing them to be the GCN compute units. Each of these CUs feature 64 stream processors. Roadmaps reveal that the next high-end GPUs by AMD could be based on its newer "Vega" architecture.

Official Statement from AMD on the PCI-Express Overcurrent Issue

AMD sent us this statement in response to growing concern among our readers that the Radeon RX 480 graphics card violates PCI-Express power specification, by overdrawing power from its single 6-pin PCIe power connector and the PCI-Express slot. Combined, the total power budged of the card should be 150W, however, it was found to draw well over that power limit.

AMD has had out-of-spec power designs in the past with the Radeon R9 295X2, for example, but that card is targeted at buyers with reasonably good PSUs. The RX 480's target audience could face troubles powering the card. Below is AMD's statement on the matter. The company stated that it's working on a driver update that could cap the power at 150W. It will be interesting to see how that power-limit affects performance.
"As you know, we continuously tune our GPUs in order to maximize their performance within their given power envelopes and the speed of the memory interface, which in this case is an unprecedented 8 Gbps for GDDR5. Recently, we identified select scenarios where the tuning of some RX 480 boards was not optimal. Fortunately, we can adjust the GPU's tuning via software in order to resolve this issue. We are already testing a driver that implements a fix, and we will provide an update to the community on our progress on Tuesday (July 5, 2016)."

NVIDIA GRID Delivers 100 Graphics-Accelerated Virtual Desktops per Server

NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) today opened the path toward virtualizing all enterprise applications with the introduction of NVIDIA GRID with the new NVIDIA Tesla M10 GPU. The offering provides the industry's highest user density -- supporting 64 desktops per board and 128 desktops per server -- so businesses can deliver virtualized desktops to all of their employees at an affordable cost.

The NVIDIA GRID software lets enterprises simplify deployments of virtual applications, desktops and workstations to meet all use cases and workloads. It provides a great user experience for every modern business application, such as Outlook, Office 2016, web browsers, Adobe Photoshop and the Windows 10 operating system. In addition, the offering eases enterprise adoption through a flexible subscription model that allows organizations to balance capital and operating expenses while enjoying the lowest total cost of ownership. Ongoing software updates provide the latest innovations to customers.

AMD Pushes for a Universal External Graphics Standard

AMD is working on a standardized external graphics solution for notebooks. This solution will allow people with ultra-thin notebooks to enjoy the mobility served up by frugal, mainstream hardware; as well as high-end gaming, with the graphics card plugged in at home. It also probably gives AMD greater control over design and cooling solutions. Unlike a mobile GPU that sits inside your notebook, and makes it bulky due to additional cooling and power requirements, an external graphics card sits on your desk, sipping on wall socket power.

AMD's external graphics solution isn't necessarily an AMD-branded piece of hardware, but rather an open specification for notebook vendors to follow. AMD will merely provide the GPUs and software ecosystem that makes the solution truly universal and plug-n-play, with "standardized connectors, cables, drivers, and OS support." Such a graphics card will interface with just any notebook with a high-speed interface (eg: Thunderbolt). Its drivers will make it crunch your games, while sending back output to your notebook's display, over the same connection. This gives you the mobility of an ultra-thin notebook. You should also be able to plug this into your work's boring Dell desktop, or any SFF ITX box. Pictured below is a Razer Core graphics solution embedding a Radeon R9 Nano. Other examples include MSI Gaming Dock and Alienware Graphics Amplifier.

TSMC Damaged by Earthquake, Could Impact AMD and NVIDIA GPU production

The recent 6.4 magnitude Taiwan earthquake, which hit the island nation on February 6th, affected TSMC worse than expected. Taiwan's premier semiconductor foundry, TSMC, had initially expected semiconductor wafer shipments to be down by less than 1%, but it is now emerging that the drop in shipments could be higher, because the damage to one of its facilities, Fab-14, is worse than originally assessed.

TSMC, in an official communication to its clients, assured that 95% of the foundry machines could return to functionality within 2-3 days after the earthquake. To that effect, machines in Fab-6 and Fab-14B have been fully restored. Despite the disaster, the company appears confident of reaching revenue targets of US $5.9-6.0 billion for Q1-2016. TSMC is the primary foundry partner of major fabless semiconductor companies, such as Qualcomm, NVIDIA, and AMD. AMD recently moved its next-generation GPU manufacturing to Korean silicon giant Samsung, while NVIDIA is building its next "Pascal" GPU family on TSMC's process.

AMD Working on a "Polaris" Chip with 232 mm² Die Area

A former AMD employee who was with the company till July 2015, disclosed vague details of the various chip projects he was involved in. Two of those projects, labeled "A" and "B" were core-logic (southbridge). Project "F" drew the attention of the press to a graphics chip with a die-area of 232 mm², 430 function blocks, built on the 14 nm LPP process. A function block can be any differentiated or unique structure on a silicon die. 3DCenter speculates that this could be a GPU based on the company's upcoming "Polaris" (GCN 4.0) architecture; and likely a performance-segment chip from the next-gen GPU family.

Futuremark Releases 3DMark 2016 Beta with VRMark Preview

Futuremark dropped an early Holiday present for enthusiasts, with a beta of 3DMark 2016. While it doesn't pack the all-awaited "Time Spy" DirectX 12 game-test, you still get a lot. To begin with, it includes a preview to VRMark, a 3D VR benchmark designed for VR headsets. It's a very early release, and as such doesn't generate a score. It doesn't yet support multi-GPU setups. You still get a groovy VR rendition of the "Fire Strike" game test universe. The beta also comes with a brand new user-interface that's a little more easy on the eyes, and quick to get your way around. The beta is being distributed through Steam and open to everyone who owns the paid version of 3DMark on Steam. Grab it from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: 3DMark 2016 Beta

AMD Counters GameWorks with GPUOpen, Leverages Open-Source

AMD is in no mood to let NVIDIA run away with the PC graphics market, with its GameWorks SDK that speeds up PC graphics development (in turn increasing NVIDIA's influence over the game development, in a predominantly AMD GCN driven client base (20% PC graphics market-share, and 100% game console market share). AMD's counter to GameWorks is GPUOpen, with the "open" referring to "open-source."

GPUOpen is a vast set of pre-developed visual-effects, tools, libraries, and SDKs, designed to give developers "unprecedented control" over the GPU, helping them get their software closer to the metal than any other software can. The idea here is that an NVIDIA GameWorks designed title won't get you as "close" to the metal on machines such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, or PCs with Radeon GPUs, as GPUOpen. Getting "close to the metal" is defined as directly leveraging features exposed by the GPU, with as few software layers between the app and the hardware as possible.

AMD Partners With Oculus and Dell to Power Oculus-Ready PCs

AMD today announced a collaboration with Oculus and Dell to equip Oculus Ready PCs with AMD Radeon GPUs, starting at $999 USD. The powerful PCs are designed to deliver stunning gaming performance and enable spectacular VR experiences for consumers around the world by leveraging AMD VR leadership with LiquidVR and Graphics Core Next architecture.

"It's an exciting time to be at the heart of all things Virtual Reality," said Roy Taylor, corporate vice president, Alliances and Content, AMD. "I'm confident that with Dell and Alienware, we can enable a wide audience of PC users with extraordinary VR capabilities powered by AMD Radeon GPUs."

AMD Expands Embedded Graphics Lineup

AMD today announced multiple new discrete AMD Embedded Radeon graphics options suitable for multiple form factors. The suite of products is specifically designed to advance the visual and parallel processing capabilities of embedded applications. The graphics cards represent continued AMD commitment to embedded market innovation, providing engineers with more choices to achieve their design goals, from leading performance to energy efficiency.

The new offerings cover a broad range of needs, from 192 GFLOPS to 3 TFLOPS of single precision performance, and from 20 to less than 95 watts of thermal design power. The products are offered as a Multi-Chip Module (MCM), Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) and PCIe options, with AMD offering the only MCM solutions. All of these products offer extended support and longevity. The new discrete graphics cards offer the right balance of performance, power and graphics memory size, to meet the needs of most customers.

"The demand for rich, vibrant graphics in embedded systems is greater than ever before, and that demand is growing," said Scott Aylor, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD Embedded Solutions. "Our latest additions to the embedded product lineup help designers build mesmerizing user experiences with 4K multi-screen installations and 3-D and interactive displays. In addition, the powerful capabilities of our GPUs can address the toughest parallel compute challenges."

NVIDIA GPUs to Accelerate Microsoft Azure

NVIDIA today announced that Microsoft will offer NVIDIA GPU-enabled professional graphics applications and accelerated computing capabilities to customers worldwide through its cloud platform, Microsoft Azure. Deploying the latest version of NVIDIA GRID in its new N-Series virtual machine offering, Azure is the first cloud computing platform to provide NVIDIA GRID 2.0 virtualized graphics for enterprise customers.

For the first time, businesses will have the ability to deploy NVIDIA Quadro-grade professional graphics applications and accelerated computing on-premises, in the cloud through Azure, or via a hybrid of the two using both Windows and Linux virtual machines. Azure will also offer customers supercomputing-class performance, with the addition of the NVIDIA Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform's flagship Tesla K80 GPU accelerators, for the most computationally demanding data center and high performance computing (HPC) applications.

AMD Unveils World's First Hardware-Based Virtualized GPU Solution at VMworld

AMD today at VMworld 2015 demonstrated the world's first hardware-based GPU virtualization solution, the AMD Multiuser GPU. This new solution from AMD enables a virtualized workstation-class experience with full ISV certifications and local desktop-like performance. With the AMD Multiuser GPU, IT pros can easily configure these solutions to allow up to 15 users on a single AMD GPU. Demonstrations of AMD virtualization solutions can be found at VMworld 2015 booth 447.

"The AMD graphics cards are uniquely equipped with AMD Multiuser GPU technology embedded into the GPU delivering consistent and predictable performance," said Sean Burke, AMD corporate vice president and general manager, Professional Graphics. "When these AMD GPUs are appropriately configured to the needs of an organization, end users get the same access to the GPU no matter their workload. Each user is provided with the virtualized performance to design, create and execute their workflows without any one user tying up the entire GPU."

Built around industry standard SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization) technology, the AMD Multiuser GPU continues AMD's embracement of non-proprietary open standards. SR-IOV is a specification developed by the PCI SIG, and provides a standardized way for devices to expose hardware virtualization. The AMD Multiuser GPU is designed to preserve and support graphics- and compute-accelerated features for design and manufacturing or media and entertainment applications. The AMD Multiuser GPU addresses limitations of current virtualized GPU solutions that may not provide predictable performance for CAD/CAE, Media and Entertainment, and general enterprise GPU needs.

AMD Announces FirePro S9170 32GB GPU Compute Card

AMD today announced the new AMD FirePro S9170 server GPU, the world's first and fastest 32GB single-GPU server card for DGEMM heavy double-precision workloads, with support for OpenCL 2.0. Based on the second-generation AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU architecture, this new addition to the AMD FirePro server GPU family is capable of delivering up to 5.24 TFLOPS of peak single precision compute performance while enabling full throughput double precision performance, providing up to 2.62 TFLOPS of peak double precision performance. Designed with compute-intensive workflows in mind, the AMD FirePro S9170 server GPU is ideal for data center managers who oversee clusters within academic or government bodies, oil and gas industries, or deep neural network compute cluster development.

"AMD is recognized as an HPC industry innovator as the graphics provider with the top spot on the November 2014 Green500 List. Today the best GPU for compute just got better with the introduction of the AMD FirePro S9170 server GPU to complement AMD's impressive array of server graphics offerings for high performance compute environments," said Sean Burke, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD Professional Graphics group. "The AMD FirePro S9170 server GPU can accelerate complex workloads in scientific computing, data analytics, or seismic processing, wielding an industry-leading 32GB of memory. We designed the new offering for supercomputers to achieve massive compute performance while maximizing available power budgets."

AMD "Fiji" Silicon Lacks HDMI 2.0 Support

It turns out that AMD's new "Fiji" silicon lacks HDMI 2.0 support, after all. Commenting on OCUK Forums, an AMD representative confirmed that the chip lacks support for the connector standard, implying that it's limited to HDMI 1.4a. HDMI 2.0 offers sufficient bandwidth for 4K Ultra HD resolution at 60 Hz. While the chip's other connectivity option, DisplayPort 1.2a supports 4K at 60 Hz - as do every 4K Ultra HD monitor ever launched - the lack of HDMI 2.0 support hurts the chip's living room ambitions, particularly with products such as the Radeon R9 Nano, which AMD CEO Lisa Su, stated that is being designed for the living room. You wouldn't need a GPU this powerful for 1080p TVs (a GTX 960 or R9 270X ITX card will do just fine), and if it's being designed for 4K UHD TVs, then its HDMI interface will cap visuals at a console-rivaling 30 Hz.

AMD Fiji XT Pictured Some More

In the latest picture leaked of AMD's upcoming flagship graphics card, codenamed "Fiji-XT," we get a final confirmation of the reference-design card's length, particularly its short PCB. Since this card uses a factory-fitted AIO liquid cooling solution, and since the Fiji XT package is effectively smaller than that of Hawaii, with the surrounding memory chips gone (moved to the GPU package as HBM stacks), the PCB is extremely compact, with just the GPU package, and its VRM. Speaking of which, the card draws power from a pair of 8-pin PCIe power connectors. The coolant tubes stick out from the rear of the card, making their way to a 120 x 120 mm radiator, with a single included 120 mm PWM fan. With this card, AMD is doing away with DVI altogether. Connectors will be a mixture of DisplayPort 1.2a and HDMI 2.0.

NVIDIA Launches First WHQL-signed Windows 10 GeForce Driver

NVIDIA announced the first WHQL-signed driver for Windows 10. GeForce 352.84 WHQL offers full compliance to WDDM 2.0 specification, and offers support for DirectX 12 (feature level 12_0) on supported GPUs (all chips based on the "Kepler" and "Maxwell" architectures). There are no games that take advantage of DirectX 12 right now, but NVIDIA suggested a few tech-demos you can toy with, such as Forza DX12 renderer, Fable Legends DX12 Game Demo, Witch Chapter 0 DX12 SLI_support, King of Wushu DX12, and the Unreal Engine Race DX12 demo. DirectX 12 is highly anticipated among game developers, as it provides a leap in performance due to the way it handles multi-CPU. For the first time, 3D graphics rendering can take advantage of any number of CPU cores you throw at them, allowing game developers to increase eye-candy and detail. DirectX 12 will debut with Windows 10, which launches this July.
DOWNLOAD: GeForce 352.84 WHQL for Windows 10 Desktop GPUs | Notebook GPUs

AMD Radeon R9 380 Launched by PC OEM

Earlier this day, HP announced its newest line of desktop PCs, one of which comes with a curious-sounding Radeon R9 380 graphics card. HP's product pages for its new desktops aren't active, yet, leaving us to only speculate on what the R9 380 could be. One theory making rounds says that the R9 380 could either be a re-branded R9 285, or be based on its "Tonga" silicon, which physically features 2,048 stream processors based on Graphics CoreNext (GCN) 1.2 architecture, and a 384-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface. Another theory states that the R9 380 could be an OEM-only re-brand of the R9 280 or R9 280X, based on the 3+ year old "Tahiti" silicon.

The former theory sounds more plausible, because re-branding a "Tahiti" based product would be suicidal for AMD. Although based on GCN, "Tahiti" lacks a lot of architecture features introduced with "Hawaii" and "Tonga." AMD practically stopped optimizing games for "Tahiti," and some of its new features, such as FreeSync and XDMA CrossFire, can't be implemented on it. "Tonga," on the other hand, supports both these features, and one can create an SKU with all its 2,048 stream processors, and its full 384-bit GDDR5 memory interface unlocked. If the R9 380 is indeed an OEM-only product, then it's likely that the company's retail-channel products could be branded in the succeeding R9 400 series. GPU makers tend to re-brand and bump their SKUs by a series for OEMs to peddle in their "new" products at short notice.

NVIDIA Frees PhysX Source Code

After Epic's Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5 game engines went "free,"with their source-codes put up by their makes for anyone to inspect freely, NVIDIA decided to join the bandwagon of showering game developers with technical empowerment, by putting up the entire source-code of PhysX 3.3.3, including its cloth and destruction physics code, on GitHub. The move to put up free-code of PhysX appears to be linked to the liberation of Unreal Engine 4 code.

NVIDIA PhysX is the principal physics component of Unreal-driven game titles for several years now. There's a catch, though. NVIDIA is only freeing CPU-based implementation of PhysX, and not its GPU-accelerated one, which leverages NVIDIA's proprietary CUDA GPU compute technology. There should still be plenty for game devs and students in the field, to chew on. In another interesting development, the PhysX SDK has been expanded from its traditionally Windows roots to cover more platforms, namely OS X, Linux, and Android. Find instructions on how to get your hands on the code, at the source link.
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