Gaming and AI are in Mac's future, even with low memory capacities

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware

Apple is continuing to insist that users can still get a lot of work done with just 8GB of memory in a Mac, while also being bullish about improving the gaming experience and AI development on the platform.

MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro



In November, Apple VP of worldwide product marketing Bob Borchers defended selling Macs with 8GB of memory, insisting that design improvements makes 8GB as useful as 16GB in a PC. Months later, chiefs at the company are continuing to insist that small is beautiful, at least in terms of memory capacities.

In an interview with IT Home, product marketing manager Evan Buyze said that 8GB of memory is suitable for many tasks, including web browsing, streaming, light photo and video editing, and some gaming.

When pressed about gaming Buyze continued by confirming that Apple is focussing on improving gaming on its platforms, especially on Mac. With the arrival of major titles including "Resident Evil 4" and "Death Stranding" on Mac, this does demonstrate the possibilities of Apple's platform as a whole.

It was pointed out to Buyze that these are games transplanted from other platforms, and he was asked if Apple would consider getting more games to launch with M-series Apple Silicon chips, potentially as exclusives. In response, Buyze pointed out the existence of the Game Porting Toolkit to help developers create games for Apple platform, and the launch of Chinese games such as "Honkai Impact 3" on Mac.

Buyze added that Apple is hoping to increase the number of game releases on Mac in the future.

AI progress



The interview then moved towards AI, with Buyze excited about how it could be used on the platform, but he declined to offer more information about Apple's plans.

Kate Bergeron, Apple VP of Hardware Engineering, chimed in on the topic, explaining that Apple was able to predict the future development of AI quite early, due to seeing the development process of AI exceeding expectations in an 18-month period.

This includes Apple's history of creating the Neural Engine since the A11 Bionic, making it a very early player in the machine learning chip industry.

The CPU, GPU, unified memory, and Neural Engine of the M-series chips creates a platform perfect for the AI PC concept, Bergeron continued. It is a platform that offers a good foundation for Apple's future AI plans.

Buyze chimed to say that Apple has incredibly close software and hardware synergies, which includes macOS. This includes features like Siri dictation, object extraction from images, and the portrait mode background blur for video conferences, which all rely on AI technology.

With WWDC 2024 just months away, the world won't have long to wait to see what Apple envisions for AI in the future.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    byronlbyronl Posts: 366member
    We've been hearing this for like 10 years lmao. I'll believe it when I see it.
    williamlondonzeus423VictorMortimer
  • Reply 2 of 30
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,775member
    byronl said:
    We've been hearing this for like 10 years lmao. I'll believe it when I see it.
    For about the same amount of time there's been only 8GB RAM in Macs by default too.
    byronl
  • Reply 3 of 30
    Unified memory IS more efficient than DDR. There’s no 1x1 comparison between the two. 
    watto_cobradanoxStrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 30
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,737member
    Unified memory IS more efficient than DDR. There’s no 1x1 comparison between the two. 
    DDR (double data rate) is just the data throughput of RAM, which doesn't say anything about how much memory is required by applications.

    However, the point about unified memory being more efficient (apps require less overall RAM) is correct. Without it apps which need to, for example, display an image on the screen need to store a copy of that image in both CPU memory (RAM) and GPU memory (VRAM). With unified memory they only need one copy because both the CPU and GPU can access the same memory. The same holds true for machine learning and the NPU (neural processing unit).

    All that said, people without critical thinking skills (i.e. the majority of the population) simply follow the "bigger is better" logic. And so if Apple hopes to sell to such people, they'll have to bump the specs, even if those people will never need that extra memory.
    edited April 13 tmayzeus423watto_cobratimpetusStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 30
    CheeseFreezeCheeseFreeze Posts: 1,264member
    Of course we all know this is BS. The real reason is that Tim Cook wants us to climb the spec ladder. A memory upgrade is probably a better choice versus upgrading cores or even moving from a Pro to Max.
    williamlondonelijahgappleinsideruserzeus423VictorMortimerbyronltimpetus
  • Reply 6 of 30
    looplessloopless Posts: 332member
    It is NOT BS.  Unified memory is a huge advantage.

    I have a 16GB 14" M1 MacBook Pro, and a  Dell 32GB Windows 11 Core I7 laptop. Both with SSD's.  I use them for software development.
    The Windows 11 machine is bumping up against its memory limits (at which point the performance tanks)  earlier than I have problems with the MacBook when doing a similar set of tasks. For example, using QT Creator and Visual Code, then building large code bases and with lots of other apps open at the same time. 
    And lets not talk about the various "blue screens" that still seem to plague Windows.
    I looked at upgrading the Dell's memory  but it has CAMM memory that costs $1000 to upgrade - so don't be complaining about Apples prices!
    watto_cobradanoxdewmewilliamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 30
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,775member
    auxio said:
    Unified memory IS more efficient than DDR. There’s no 1x1 comparison between the two. 
    DDR (double data rate) is just the data throughput of RAM, which doesn't say anything about how much memory is required by applications.

    However, the point about unified memory being more efficient (apps require less overall RAM) is correct. Without it apps which need to, for example, display an image on the screen need to store a copy of that image in both CPU memory (RAM) and GPU memory (VRAM). With unified memory they only need one copy because both the CPU and GPU can access the same memory. The same holds true for machine learning and the NPU (neural processing unit).

    All that said, people without critical thinking skills (i.e. the majority of the population) simply follow the "bigger is better" logic. And so if Apple hopes to sell to such people, they'll have to bump the specs, even if those people will never need that extra memory.
    The second half is not true. The same image data does not need to be in RAM and VRAM. Even if that was the case, the shared memory space means you are just using memory that could be used for applications for VRAM instead so there is no storage benefit with shared RAM. It does effectively enable you to feed data into the VRAM though without going through main RAM first, because the main RAM just "converts" to VRAM when you tell the GPU to access the memory address of that image data. However, a dedicated GPU has dedicated VRAM so whilst data goes through main RAM first (though there are now ways to have the GPU fetch directly from the SSD, bypassing CPU and main RAM), that main RAM is still available for applications, whereas with shared it is not.

    But! MacOS does memory compression across the board, which for some data will effectively hugely increase the available RAM. But other data is not compressible, so it's not cut and dry. I don't know if Windows does or not.

    In this case, bigger is most definitely better, aside from a tiny impact on battery life. My MBP regularly uses way over 8GB RAM with just Safari open. 
    dewme
  • Reply 8 of 30
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,775member

    Of course we all know this is BS. The real reason is that Tim Cook wants us to climb the spec ladder. A memory upgrade is probably a better choice versus upgrading cores or even moving from a Pro to Max.
    It is this 100%. Same with SSD upgrades, it does not cost Apple £200 to add an extra 512GB chip to the board, more like £6-7; if that. And you can't even justify that it helps pay for macOS or Apple Silicon research that does into those chips, because Apple does not make their own memory. No doubt there will be plenty here that will still try and defend that though and make themselves look gullible and stupid. Apple RAM and storage is a massive rip off.
    zeus423VictorMortimerDead_PoolCheeseFreeze
  • Reply 9 of 30
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,775member

    loopless said:
    It is NOT BS.  Unified memory is a huge advantage.

    I have a 16GB 14" M1 MacBook Pro, and a  Dell 32GB Windows 11 Core I7 laptop. Both with SSD's.  I use them for software development.
    The Windows 11 machine is bumping up against its memory limits (at which point the performance tanks)  earlier than I have problems with the MacBook when doing a similar set of tasks. For example, using QT Creator and Visual Code, then building large code bases and with lots of other apps open at the same time. 
    And lets not talk about the various "blue screens" that still seem to plague Windows.
    I looked at upgrading the Dell's memory  but it has CAMM memory that costs $1000 to upgrade - so don't be complaining about Apples prices!
    Windows is hideously inefficient with RAM. Doesn't excuse Apple from still only supplying 8GB as standard though. If you need a VM for example,  that will eat all of the 8GB straight up. 

    32GB Dell CAMM RAM is £422. Apple charges £400 for just 24GB memory on the 14" MBP (which is actually, really only 8GB because the other 16GB doesn't go in the bin when you specify 24GB), the Dell is cheaper (which is not really a surprise, dell is junk).

    Why people still desperately defend Apple's nickel and diming on things like this I have no idea, when there are plenty of other areas where Apple is in fact good value that they can use as the argument instead. Another one: the 14"MBP comes with a 70w PSU. To upgrade to the 96W one is £10. A whole £10 on a £1900 machine. Why bother with that extra SKU, it's completely ridiculous and means if you want the 96W PSU, it's a 2 week wait for delivery or pickup because it is special order. Some idiot at Apple decided that was actually a good idea. Much like they were still including an incredibly sluggish 5200RPM HDD in the 2019 21" iMacs for £1200. They were a joke.

    This kind of crap gives people so much ammunition when they say Macs are not good value, and people here defending it are just as stupid as whoever decided to charge £10 extra for that PSU.
    edited April 13 VictorMortimerCheeseFreeze
  • Reply 10 of 30
    JoharJohar Posts: 15member
    Tim Cook is a bean counter who seems to really dislike AAA games, while favoring Apple Arcade fluff. A whole generation of gamer kids have been lost for Apple due to his deliberate choice to snub AAA game developers.
    elijahgnubuszeus423VictorMortimerwilliamlondonblastdoortimpetusCheeseFreeze
  • Reply 11 of 30
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,370member
    Sorry, but all the defenses of Apple on this are total poppycock.  I'm a huge defender of Apple, and have been since 1984.  People who go around doing nothing but trashing Apple are trash themselves.  But let's face it, folks, RAM is one area Apple has ALWAYS failed the consumer on.  Apple Silicon and RAM efficiency talk is garbage.  What matters is PRACTICAL USABILITY.  Does somebody online talking about efficiency magically make 8GB good enough for YOU?  No.  No, it does not.

    I purchased an M1 MacBook Air with that "efficient" 8GB of RAM for my daughter as she entered college 3 years ago.  (I knew she would need more storage space than the default too, so I ordered 512GB of SSD space.)  I based that 8GB decision largely on what others were saying and based on my own online research about have special "unified memory" is.  Skip forward a few months and one of the biggest issues she's had is with inadequate RAM, and I've had to spend a lot of time with her to bring her so-called "modern" Mac back to 1984 days.  That's right, I've had to tell her to launch only a single app at a time.  Remember those days when you could only do that with System 1.0 all the way up to MultiFinder?  Well, it's back in a different form today.  When your 8GB Mac slows to a crawl or has apps that exit due to inadequate RAM, you have to quit all apps but the RAM hungry one you need to run, and then and only then your 8GB RAM-constrained M1 Mac starts to work well.

    Having had that ridiculous experience with my daughter's M1 MBA, when my son needed a new Mac for school, I purchase him the current Air out at the time, which was an M2 13" MBA, but this time I didn't play the idiot consumer.  I spent extra money so it would come with 16GB RAM, and I also ordered the more reasonable 512GB storage too.  Guess what?  Not a single memory issue, and he uses pretty much the same apps his older sister does.  That practical experiences takes everyone who defends 8GB of RAM and kicks them square in the fanny.

    Moral of the story? Don't listen to Apple.  Don't listen to Cupertino-worshippers in Apple-centric forums like this one.  Listen to practical experiences from people like myself who have loved and known Macs for years.  And consider well you will likely need more RAM than you think, either immediately or soon down the line.  And that more RAM means anything more than 8GB.

    Full disclosure, I am against all these crazy and pathetic lawsuits against Apple, especially because I am an AAPL investor.  I want to see Apple succeed because I believe in Tim Cook, Apple engineers, their design team, and their great products. I laugh every single time I hear the name EPIC or Merrick Garland because these idiots are seeking to trash Apple and force it to do things that really don't positive impact me as a consumer much at all.  However, nobody is trying to force Apple to put more usable amounts of RAM and storage in its baseline products.  I guess you can argue it's impossible to do that in a free market society, so oh well.  But let's face it, too little RAM is what we've been faced with since the 128K Mac, and it needs to change.  And while not as important, I think the same is true of baseline storage too.  The manufacturing cost differential between 8GB vs. 16GB RAM and 256GB vs. 512GB of storage in 2024 is so insignificant that Apple is totally insane for charging all the money it does for those RAM and storage upgrades, especially so on machines that cannot be consumer-upgraded after purchase.  Yes, my friends, Apple can still be a wildly profitable company even if they start offering 16GB of baseline RAM and 512GB of storage, and nothing less than that.

    I love Apple and its products, but RAM and STORAGE amounts are as infuriating as the mindless people who defend "8GB is enough." But I say, efficiency be darned!  Give us more RAM and STORAGE in baseline product models!  And bump baseline iCloud storage from 5GB to at least 15GB too.  It's 2024 for crying out loud!
    elijahgappleinsideruserzeus423watto_cobraVictorMortimermuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 30
    Unified memory IS more efficient than DDR. There’s no 1x1 comparison between the two. 
    It's also probably cheaper to add into an  existing piece of silicon than manufacturing a separate RAM chip.  Either way, it costs next to nothing to do 16GB instead of 8GB, especially when charging $1500 for a MBP.  The issue comes down to greed and the missing $200 upgrade revenue Apple gets by adding $5 of RAM to a MBP. 
    elijahg
  • Reply 13 of 30
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,426member
    loopless said:
    It is NOT BS.  Unified memory is a huge advantage.

    I have a 16GB 14" M1 MacBook Pro, and a  Dell 32GB Windows 11 Core I7 laptop. Both with SSD's.  I use them for software development.
    The Windows 11 machine is bumping up against its memory limits (at which point the performance tanks)  earlier than I have problems with the MacBook when doing a similar set of tasks. For example, using QT Creator and Visual Code, then building large code bases and with lots of other apps open at the same time. 
    And lets not talk about the various "blue screens" that still seem to plague Windows.
    I looked at upgrading the Dell's memory  but it has CAMM memory that costs $1000 to upgrade - so don't be complaining about Apples prices!
    It's not normal to have blue screens in Windows.  Most of the time is related to hardware issues. As an example, one of my customers had blue screens in his workstation when working with Revit, and after running a diagnostic we found out it was a bad memory module. Maybe you could run a diagnostic test to confirm there are no hardware problems. 
  • Reply 14 of 30
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,426member
    elijahg said:

    loopless said:
    It is NOT BS.  Unified memory is a huge advantage.

    I have a 16GB 14" M1 MacBook Pro, and a  Dell 32GB Windows 11 Core I7 laptop. Both with SSD's.  I use them for software development.
    The Windows 11 machine is bumping up against its memory limits (at which point the performance tanks)  earlier than I have problems with the MacBook when doing a similar set of tasks. For example, using QT Creator and Visual Code, then building large code bases and with lots of other apps open at the same time. 
    And lets not talk about the various "blue screens" that still seem to plague Windows.
    I looked at upgrading the Dell's memory  but it has CAMM memory that costs $1000 to upgrade - so don't be complaining about Apples prices!
    Windows is hideously inefficient with RAM. Doesn't excuse Apple from still only supplying 8GB as standard though. If you need a VM for example,  that will eat all of the 8GB straight up. 
    I know that Windows and macOS works differently, but I never seen a test where it shows that Windows is "hideously inefficient with RAM". At least in my customers working with heavy loads, they had no issues at all with memory management in Windows.  But maybe you had a different experience.  
    VictorMortimernubus
  • Reply 15 of 30
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,360moderator
    elijahg said:
    byronl said:
    We've been hearing this for like 10 years lmao. I'll believe it when I see it.
    For about the same amount of time there's been only 8GB RAM in Macs by default too.
    The costs have fallen since then so Apple could reduce their prices. Memory hasn't dropped as much as SSD but enough to change the minimum:

    https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/historical-cost-of-computer-memory-and-storage

    Going back 20 years to 2004, the standard RAM was 256MB:

    https://everymac.com/systems/by_year/macs-released-in-2004.html

    It's hard to believe an entire OS could run with 256MB (or less) when a single browser tab uses that now.

    10 years ago, the standard was 8GB.

    https://everymac.com/systems/by_year/macs-released-in-2014.html

    It went up 32x between 2004 > 2014 but no change from 2014 > 2024.

    According to the memory prices at the first link, 2004 memory was around $76/GB, 2014 was around $3.70/GB (1/20th the price). 2024 would be around $2.10/GB (just over 1/2 the price).

    256MB in 2004 would cost $19.
    8GB in 2014 would cost $29.
    8GB in 2024 would cost $16 ( https://www.crucial.com/memory/ddr4/ct8g4sfs824a https://www.amazon.com/Kingston-KCP316SD8-8gb-1600mhz-Sodimm/dp/B01B5SKCQW ).

    Even if we assume Apple is using more expensive RAM, it's not likely to be more than $5/GB, in which case, 8GB RAM costs them under $40. They charge $200 for this upgrade. This 80% gross margin is much higher than their normal gross margins of 40%.

    They could afford to go to 16GB entry-level and it's a sensible baseline if they want to push AI:

    https://www.makeuseof.com/16gb-ram-new-standard-windows/

    12GB for entry models would be ok. Although 8GB is usable at the entry level, this isn't the memory available for applications. The OS and display use some of this memory. The system easily uses 4GB just booting so only 4GB left for apps. 12GB doubles the available application memory and 16GB triples it.

    I think reasonable options for M4 could be 12/24/36/48/64/96/128/192/256GB where each extra 12GB is $200 and 32GB upgrade stays at $400. 512GB SSD baseline too.

    They already have lower RAM prices for different options.
    32GB for $400 = $12.50/GB.
    8GB for $200 = $25/GB.

    If they use $12.50/GB for all upgrades, an 8GB upgrade to 16GB total would be $100 and going to 24GB would be $100.

    Either 12GB or 16GB baseline makes sense for M4 machines and lower upgrade prices for the smaller memory upgrades in line with the larger ones.
    watto_cobraelijahgtimpetus
  • Reply 16 of 30
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,775member
    danvm said:
    elijahg said:

    loopless said:
    It is NOT BS.  Unified memory is a huge advantage.

    I have a 16GB 14" M1 MacBook Pro, and a  Dell 32GB Windows 11 Core I7 laptop. Both with SSD's.  I use them for software development.
    The Windows 11 machine is bumping up against its memory limits (at which point the performance tanks)  earlier than I have problems with the MacBook when doing a similar set of tasks. For example, using QT Creator and Visual Code, then building large code bases and with lots of other apps open at the same time. 
    And lets not talk about the various "blue screens" that still seem to plague Windows.
    I looked at upgrading the Dell's memory  but it has CAMM memory that costs $1000 to upgrade - so don't be complaining about Apples prices!
    Windows is hideously inefficient with RAM. Doesn't excuse Apple from still only supplying 8GB as standard though. If you need a VM for example,  that will eat all of the 8GB straight up. 
    I know that Windows and macOS works differently, but I never seen a test where it shows that Windows is "hideously inefficient with RAM". At least in my customers working with heavy loads, they had no issues at all with memory management in Windows.  But maybe you had a different experience.  
    Just anecdotal really - but running the same software for similar time doing a similar thing (Firefox for example), and Windows will have used much more RAM than macOS has. Similarly Windows is always doing something. Even when idle. My Intel MBP running Windows is always hot, same with my work laptop. But the same MBP running macOS at idle is cold. Massive amounts of energy wasted,
    edited April 13 watto_cobradanox
  • Reply 17 of 30
    Huawei has unveiled the BookMate X Pro (2024) notebook empowered with Intel AI chip. It comes with Bangu LLM preinstalled. Will M4 Pro (AI Pro) do a better job? At what cost?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 30
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,426member
    elijahg said:
    danvm said:
    elijahg said:

    loopless said:
    It is NOT BS.  Unified memory is a huge advantage.

    I have a 16GB 14" M1 MacBook Pro, and a  Dell 32GB Windows 11 Core I7 laptop. Both with SSD's.  I use them for software development.
    The Windows 11 machine is bumping up against its memory limits (at which point the performance tanks)  earlier than I have problems with the MacBook when doing a similar set of tasks. For example, using QT Creator and Visual Code, then building large code bases and with lots of other apps open at the same time. 
    And lets not talk about the various "blue screens" that still seem to plague Windows.
    I looked at upgrading the Dell's memory  but it has CAMM memory that costs $1000 to upgrade - so don't be complaining about Apples prices!
    Windows is hideously inefficient with RAM. Doesn't excuse Apple from still only supplying 8GB as standard though. If you need a VM for example,  that will eat all of the 8GB straight up. 
    I know that Windows and macOS works differently, but I never seen a test where it shows that Windows is "hideously inefficient with RAM". At least in my customers working with heavy loads, they had no issues at all with memory management in Windows.  But maybe you had a different experience.  
    Just anecdotal really - but running the same software for similar time doing a similar thing (Firefox for example), and Windows will have used much more RAM than macOS has. Similarly Windows is always doing something. Even when idle. My Intel MBP running Windows is always hot, same with my work laptop. But the same MBP running macOS at idle is cold. Massive amounts of energy wasted,
    Windows has a service, SysMain, that analyze how you use the applications and use RAM as cache to speed up the system.  It's possible that the high RAM usage you see is for cache and not Windows being inefficient.  

    In my experience with my Windows devices, there are problems if CPU usage is high while idle.  In normal circumstances, it should be close to 0% of CPU usage.  That's my experience with my Windows devices, and even with my customers. You should check if there are issues with an application or Windows missing an update. 
    elijahgmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 30
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,423member
    Apple is definitely more efficient with RAM usage with Macs and iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, etc., compared to their primary competitors like Windows and Android. However I still steer clear of any base level memory and storage configurations because I keep my Apple products around for a longer period of time than I do most non-Apple products.

     My rationale is that I’m paying more for product acquisition but I believe I’m getting a better than break even lifetime cost by spec’ing up from the start. Apple’s static configurations don’t allow you to upgrade incrementally so you have to be willing to amortize your higher acquisition cost over a longer service life. I think this has worked out better for me but I don’t have a control case to compare the actual benefit, or potentially, the loss. 

    For certain Apple products like iPhone I always consider how much storage I’ve used over the period of time I’ve had the device. At the end of every iPhone ownership cycle I’ve been through so far I found myself essentially doubling the storage capacity. With other Apple computing devices that have memory capacity options, I tend to double the memory and storage from one product purchase to the next. 

    However, memory and storage aren’t always the driving factor. Advances in other functional and quality attributes as well as affordability can force me to settle for a product that’s isn’t a perfect match.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,737member
    elijahg said:
    auxio said:
    Unified memory IS more efficient than DDR. There’s no 1x1 comparison between the two. 
    DDR (double data rate) is just the data throughput of RAM, which doesn't say anything about how much memory is required by applications.

    However, the point about unified memory being more efficient (apps require less overall RAM) is correct. Without it apps which need to, for example, display an image on the screen need to store a copy of that image in both CPU memory (RAM) and GPU memory (VRAM). With unified memory they only need one copy because both the CPU and GPU can access the same memory. The same holds true for machine learning and the NPU (neural processing unit).

    All that said, people without critical thinking skills (i.e. the majority of the population) simply follow the "bigger is better" logic. And so if Apple hopes to sell to such people, they'll have to bump the specs, even if those people will never need that extra memory.
    The second half is not true. The same image data does not need to be in RAM and VRAM.
    Please enlighten me as to how the GPU can load an image from disk directly into VRAM when it has no ability to access the hard drive (GPU is just specialized graphics compute power with no device I/O capabilities).

    Sure, once the image has been loaded from disk by the CPU into RAM and then copied to a texture/buffer in VRAM, it can be purged from RAM. But that doesn't negate the fact that, at image load time, you'll have 2 copies of the image in memory (and thus require double the memory) unless the GPU and CPU can share the same memory (i.e. unified memory).

    I could go on about how, if you use a lot of images, you'll need to cache some in RAM since you typically have more RAM than VRAM (or you need VRAM for other things like vertex buffers, frame buffers, etc) but I think the original example is a good, simplified explanation. It's a similar situation with AI/ML and the NPU.

    edited April 14 williamlondonnubustimpetus
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