Distributed Gaming Workload on Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers

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1 White Paper Distributed Gaming Workload on Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers Executive Summary Cloud-scale applications with massive scale-out architecture require a dense computing platform and easy provisioning of thousands of computing nodes across multiple deployment domains. These applications demand a single management window, power efficiency, shared network and basic local storage I/O resources, and a best-inclass price-to-performance ratio. Cloud-scale distributed applications, such as massively multiplayer online gaming (MMOG), high-performance computing (HPC), and video transcoding, require a non-virtualized infrastructure comprising of large number of physical servers with adequate processor, memory, and local storage resources. To meet these demands, server vendors have tried to shrink servers into smaller consumable units, with less focus on converged infrastructure and management. The result is miniaturized servers, or cartridges, each with its own storage controller, network controller, blade management controller, and hard drives. These cartridges are housed in a chassis that provides common power and cooling resources, and sometimes aggregation of networking resources. This concept does address the computational requirements of clouds-scale applications, but it increases deployment, operations, and lifecycle management complexity. Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers use a different approach. Building on the fundamentals of converged infrastructure, the Cisco UCS M-Series takes advantage of proven Cisco application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design and technologies to decouple the networking and storage components of the server cartridge and provide them as flexible, configurable resources that can be distributed as needed to the servers in the chassis. In this model, the server is a computing node that consists simply of the CPU and memory, with standard PCI Express (PCIe) connectivity from the CPU to the chassis resources. The components that are shared in the chassis are power, cooling, storage, and networking. Moreover, the award-winning Cisco UCS Manager provides management and scalability to the Cisco UCS M-Series modular chassis, with consistency and simplicity in device management. This document discusses how customers with applications such as MMOG and distributed web and Java workloads can achieve near-linear scalability on non-virtualized computing servers with shared power, management, cooling, storage and networking resources. In general, MMOG and web distributed workloads require limited but distributed computing resources and have an affinity for non-virtualized and bare-metal services. Applications with such requirements are well suited for modular servers. This document evaluates the performance of such applications across multiple cartridges plugged into a Cisco UCS M-Series Modular chassis. Audience The audience for this guide includes customers, sales engineers, field consultants, professional services staff, IT managers, and partner engineering staff who want to deploy Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 1 of 15

2 This document is intended to assist customers seeking a farm of non-virtualized or bare-metal servers for their distributed cloud-scale applications such as online gaming, video transcoding, and web workloads. The Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS ) provides a revolutionary data center design, and the Cisco UCS M- Series provides a high-density, modular, and power-efficient platform designed to meet the needs of parallelized workloads. Solution Overview The Cisco UCS M-Series offers a new 2-rack-unit (2RU): the Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis. This chassis supports eight Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridges for scalability to 16 computing nodes with a 2RU form factor. The modular chassis is built on the foundation of proven innovation using Cisco virtual interface card (VIC) technology. It is connected to a pair of Cisco UCS fabric interconnects with Cisco UCS Manager, providing ease of use and scalability with industry-leading Cisco UCS management. Figure 1 illustrates the Cisco UCS M-Series architecture. Figure 1. Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Server Architecture The solution discussed in this document demonstrates the performance and scalability of cloud-scale applications such as MMOG and distributed e-commerce workloads, which harness the modular computing capabilities of Cisco UCS M-Series servers. Cloud-scale applications concurrently run on several bare-metal servers, and the availability of the workload is managed by the application itself. These applications are massively parallelized and scale horizontally. A typical application can spawn a number of smaller instances. The application instance flexibly adapts to the underlying infrastructure. Because of the massive scale, the deployment model requires bare minimum computing elements. Resiliency and availability are built into the application layer. Recovery from any hardware failure is automatically handled by the application architecture. Figure 2 illustrates the cloud-scale deployment model Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 2 of 15

3 Figure 2. Cloud Scale Applications Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Server The Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Server was designed specifically for the highly parallelized workloads typically found in cloud, online gaming, and multivariable computing. This unique new design eliminates the complexity of traditional servers by disaggregating the underlying component parts. Instead of the underutilized and overprovisioned local resources that historically have been within traditional servers (such as hard disk drives, network I/O resources, baseboard and network controllers), resources are aggregated and shared across multiple computing nodes. These components include power, cooling, network I/O, local disk drive, and system management resources. This separation of components by the Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Server platform decouples the lifecycle of the component subsystems. You no longer need to replace an entire system because the processors, hard drives, or network I/O resources need to be updated or refreshed. The Cisco UCS M-Series allows application performance to be optimized by scaling subsystems to achieve the best ratio of computing to network I/O and shared local storage in small discreet increments. This new design also allows scalability in smaller increments, so your applications can have the number of computing nodes that they require to achieve the desired performance and availability without overprovisioning, and wasting resources Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 3 of 15

4 With this revolutionary design, the Cisco UCS M-Series provides a high-density, modular, and power-efficient platform designed to meet the needs of parallelized workloads. The Cisco UCS M-Series provides: Better performance per watt Optimized use of computing capacity and rack-unit space The award-winning Cisco UCS Manager provides management for the Cisco UCS M-Series with consistency and simplicity in device management. Cisco UCS Manager is a model-based, automated tool for element management that allows easy integration with higher-level tools using an open XML API. Cisco System Link Technology At the core of the Cisco UCS M-Series servers is Cisco System Link Technology. The Cisco UCS M-Series takes advantage of this technology to decouple the networking and storage components of the server cartridge and provide them as flexible, configurable resources that can be distributed as needed to the servers within the chassis. System Link is the third-generation technology underlying Cisco VICs and the fourth-generation technology underlying Cisco Unified Fabric within the construct of Cisco Unified Computing. It is the component that gives the computing nodes access to the shared I/O resources in the chassis. System Link Technology helps create a new PCIe physical function called the Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) network interface card (NIC), or snic, which presents a virtual storage controller to the operating system and maps multiple drive resources to a specific service profile within Cisco UCS. This innovative technology provides the mechanism that enables each computing node in the Cisco UCS M-Series server to have its own specific virtual drive carved out of the available physical drives in the chassis. This feature is implemented using standard PCIe addressing, with each computing node addressing its own snic. As a result, the nodes can share the same RAID controller without the need for multi-root I/O virtualization. Therefore, the OS does not require any special knowledge of a change in the PCIe addressing format. Figure 3 illustrates the disaggregation of servers through Cisco System Link Technology. Figure 3. System Link Technology Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Server Chassis The Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis (Figure 4) extends the capabilities of the Cisco UCS portfolio to a high-density 2RU form-factor chassis with up to eight front-access slots that accommodate up to eight singlewide cartridges Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 4 of 15

5 The chassis architecture accommodates computing cartridges as well as other specialized cartridges. The rear of the chassis supports four SSDs that are connected to an internal removable RAID controller. Storage capacity and connectivity are distributed to the pluggable computing cartridges using Cisco s third-generation VIC. Network I/O is provided by two 40-Gbps Quad-Small Form-Factor Pluggable (QSFP) ports, which aggregate all computing cartridge I/O and management traffic into a single connection for cable consolidation and efficiency. An upstream VNTag-capable top-of-rack switch is required for the total solution and is available now with the Cisco UCS 6200 Series Fabric Interconnects. The Cisco UCS M4308 chassis is physically cabled to the Cisco UCS 6200 Series Fabric Interconnects. Fabric interconnects provide the management and communication backbone for the chassis and the installed computing cartridges. Up to 20 Cisco UCS M4308 chassis and the associated cartridges can be attached to a pair of fabric interconnects and managed as part of a single domain. Centralized unified management is provided by Cisco UCS Manager, which is embedded in the fabric interconnects. Figure 4. Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridge The Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridge (Figure 5) is the first in a series of cartridges that will be supported in the Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis. The Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridge has two independent computing nodes. Each computing node has a single-socket Intel Xeon processor E3 series CPU with up to 32 GB of memory. Each computing node has an individual management connection to Cisco UCS Manager through the shared infrastructure within the chassis. Meeting the density and power efficiency objectives of cloud-scale computing, the Cisco UCS M142 supports low-power-consumption CPUs that provide optimal performance for specific applications. Applications that are suited to run on the Cisco UCS M142 include online content delivery, dedicated hosting, financial modeling, and business analytics Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 5 of 15

6 Figure 5. Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridge MMOG Game Play Online games are an increasingly popular form of entertainment on the Internet, with the worldwide online market predicted to be worth over US$40 billion by Massively multiplayer online games, or MMOGs, differentiate themselves from other online games by allowing thousands of players to share a single virtual world at the same time. A MMOG is generally a persistent simulation that keeps running whether players are logged in or not. Players subscribe to these games to play in the persistent online virtual worlds as long as the game provides rich and highly interactive content. MMOGs are fast developing into a dominant online game type, because they provide players with the utmost game depth and social interaction. An important aspect of MMOGs is good game experience. This feature is critical in keeping players engaged, and it has an immediate effect on the income of the MMOG operators. Failing to deliver timely simulation updates leads to a degraded game experience and triggers player departure. In general, MMOGs are either of two types: massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) or massively multiplayer online first-person shooter (MMOFPS) games. Several other types of MMOGs exist, such as massively multiplayer online real-time strategy (MMORTS) games, but these are more or less variations of MMORPGs and MMOFPS games. MMORPGs are a combination of role-playing video games and MMOGs and are generally played through a web browser interface, through which a large number of players interact virtually through persistent networks. Just as in role-playing games (RPGs), in MMORPGs the player exists in as an imaginary character and interacts with other players in the virtual world. These games generally require a response time of about 1 to 3 seconds and are CPU intensive. The game character continues to exist even if the player is offline or away from the game. MMOFPS games are web browser based games in which a very large number of players interact over a pointand-shoot landscape. MMOFPS games allow users to play a fast-paced action game in a collaborative or competitive way. These games provide large-scale, sometimes team-based, combat. Unlike MMORPGs, MMOFPS games emphasize player skills rather than player statistics, and no number of in-game bonuses will compensate for a player's inability to aim and think tactically. MMOFPS games are response-time sensitive, and a slow network over game infrastructure can lead to migration of the game players and thus cause huge losses to the game provider companies Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 6 of 15

7 MMOG Architecture MMOG supports several thousands of users concurrently across many geographic locations. MMOG architecture should be designed so that platforms are easy to operate and scale as new users subscribe to a particular game. There are two main types of MMOG architecture: Client-server architecture Peer-to-peer architecture Most MMOGs use the client-server architecture. Each player connects to a game server through a proxy layer, and thereafter the server handles the rules and state of the player. The game servers are distributed across the geographic locations and help maintain localization, regional game rooms, and local game events. The distribution of game servers and proxy servers helps achieve the massive scale of concurrency for MMOGs. The game servers manage distributed architecture through several techniques such as: Sharding: Run copies of the game on different physical or virtual servers. These copies, or instances, are called shards. Each shard hosts a small set of users, with the limitation that there is no interaction between shards. Cloning: Run copies of the game across distributed servers while maintaining synchronization of game instances. Zoning: Separate the game world into regions, with clusters of servers to maintain and synchronize each region. Figure 6 shows on a typical MMOG architecture spread across geographic locations. Figure 6. MMOG Distributed Architecture 2015 Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 7 of 15

8 Why Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers for MMOG To support thousands of concurrent players and many more other game entities, MMOG operators install and operate a large static infrastructure consisting of hundreds to thousands of computers on which they distribute the load of a game to provide the required quality of service. For instance, the operating infrastructure of the largest MMORPG uses more than 10,000 servers. The computing resource demand of MMOGs is highly dynamic, and because of the unpredictability of user presence, a large part of the statically allocated resources are not used, which leads to very inefficient resource utilization. In addition to the resource demands and quality of service (QoS) of MMOGs, challenges for game service infrastructure providers include: Unpredictable computational power requirements, which leads to under or overprovisioning of computing resources Distributed but limited computational resource requirements per server or MMOG server farm High network bandwidth at low latencies required by MMOGs, especially for first-person shooter (FPS) games Ease of scaling server farms as required Operating expenses and capital costs With high-resource and low-latency requirements for MMOG infrastructure, the virtual cloud poses another challenge. The hypervisor layer and the multitenant nature of public clouds platforms, with the additional overhead of oversubscription, have led to unpredictability in response time and computational resources for MMOGs. In the MMOG world, what matters is user experience. If the experience is not satisfactory to the end users, they may move to other game providers. These are some of the reasons that many game service providers have moved to bare-metal services either on private or public clouds. The Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers overcome these challenges and meet the requirements of MMOG infrastructure service providers in several ways: Cisco UCS M-Series servers provide a policy-based, automated approach to deploy large farms of game servers with finely detailed control over the way that resources are used to create a server. You implement this new approach through the Cisco UCS Manager GUI, XML API, command-line interface (CLI), Python, and Microsoft Windows PowerShell scripting. A single 2RU chassis consists of 8 cartridges, which provide a total of 16 physical servers. This structure helps in the provisioning of disaggregated but dedicated computing resources for localized game instances. Cisco System Link Technology disaggregates network I/O interfaces and storage from computing nodes. The network I/O configuration, including the number and type of I/O devices, QoS, local storage, and storage redundancy characteristics (such as RAID level), are configured through Cisco UCS Manager service profiles and new storage profiles Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 8 of 15

9 Traditional scale-out servers typically use dual Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. In the new Cisco model, a total of 80 Gbps of network bandwidth is shared among the chassis 16 servers, for an average of 5 Gbps of bandwidth per server. As the total bandwidth is shared, the Cisco UCS M-Series servers, unlike discrete servers, can accommodate spikes in bandwidth. Service providers can define up to 320 servers in a single Cisco UCS domain, and up to 10,000 servers using Cisco UCS Central Software. This capability makes it easy to scale out when there is a surge in resource demand, with the benefits of low operating expenses and capital costs. With ease of management, the flexibility to scale out as required, and disaggregated bare-metal computing resources, Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers meet the needs of MMOG infrastructure service providers. Solution Architecture MMOG GamePlay Solution Architecture Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers, with its disaggregate computing instances plus shared local disk, power, cooling, and network I/O resources, is well suited to deploy large distributed MMOGs across data centers. To demonstrate the true capabilities of Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers, a real-world gaming workload was benchmarked with critical system characteristics such as CPU, memory, and network utilization across Cisco UCS M-Series cartridges. This test used Planet PI4 as the gaming workload on the Cisco UCS M-Series server. Planet PI4 is a peer-to-peer (P2P) shooter game, developed by the University of Mannheim and TU Darmstadt. It is a fully implemented third-person 3D space shooter game for multiple players connected by a P2P overlay network. Shooter games are very sensitive to latency, and MMOGs need to be very scalable. These two important features make Planet P14 an interesting workload for validating the performance of Cisco UCS M-Series servers. The Planet PI4 game core provides a player control interface that can be used either by the GUI or by bot implementations. Simulation of concurrent users through bots is another important aspect in selecting Planet PI4 for the gaming workload study using Cisco UCS M-Series servers. In the Planet PI4 workload, the players can fly through a virtual asteroid field with space ships and shoot at each other. The game world contains several points of interest like bases or repair points as incentives for players to gather in certain locations. The game software has a modular architecture so that the implementation of the gaming overlay used can be exchanged as needed with little effort. Figure 7 shows the physical deployment of the gaming workload on Cisco UCS M-Series servers Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 9 of 15

10 Figure 7. Physical Deployment of Gaming Workload on Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis The important aspects of the deployment shown in Figure 7 are: Four Cisco UCS M142 cartridges are deployed on the Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis. A total of eight servers are used: two physical servers on each Cisco UCS M142 cartridge. Multiple gaming instances are instantiated across eight servers. Bots are instantiated on multiple cartridges with the GUI client on one of the cartridges. All the bots interact through P2P messaging and attack the GUI user. Figure 8 shows the deployment architecture of the Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis equipped with four Cisco UCS M142 cartridges and connected to a pair of Cisco UCS 6248UP 48-Port Fabric Interconnects. Figure 8. Deployment Architecture of Gaming Workload on Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis 2015 Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 10 of 15

11 Table 1 lists the main hardware and software components used in the configuration presented in this document. Table 1. Hardware and Software Configuration Components Component Cisco UCS M-Series Chassis Computing cartridge Configuration 1 Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis. 4 Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridges, with each cartridge equipped with 2 physical servers, each with 1 Intel Xeon processor E3-1275L v3 and 32 GB of physical memory Shared internal storage 4 x 480-GB 2.5-inch Enterprise Value 6-Gbps SAS SSDs with RAID 5 Fabric interconnect Operating system Gaming workload 2 Cisco UCS 6248UP 1RU fabric interconnects Ubuntu deployed across 8 servers (4 computing cartridges) Planet PI4 Performance Characterization In Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers, power, cooling, network I/O, and local disk resources are shared across eight Cisco UCS M142 compute cartridges deployed in a single Cisco UCS M4308 chassis. Therefore, to evaluate the true capabilities of the system, the customer needs to understand the performance and scalability of a single chassis when deployed with a distributed application across multiple computing cartridges. This section evaluates the performance and scalability of Cisco UCS M-Series servers deployed with a MMOG workload (Planet PI4) and a distributed Java workload. MMOG GamePlay Performance The test bed for the MMOG gaming solution was deployed with four Cisco UCS M142 compute cartridges plugged into a single Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis. Each Cisco UCS M142 compute cartridge has two physical servers, with each server equipped with one Intel Xeon processor E3-1275L v3 and 32 GB of physical memory. Planer PI4 was deployed across a total of eight physical servers. Single-Server Scalability The test scenario for single-server scalability was executed to determine the scalability when several users are instantiated on one physical server hosted in a Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridge (Figure 9) Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 11 of 15

12 Figure 9. Scalability for Single Physical Server on Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridge As Figure 9 shows, the gaming workload on a single physical server on a Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridge could scale to a maximum of seven users. Each physical server was configured with one Intel Xeon processor E3-1275L v3 and 32 GB of physical memory. Some of the observations were: A single physical server could be scaled to a maximum of seven users. The maximum CPU utilization on a single physical server was about 90 percent. The CPU utilization across the server scaled linearly from 12 percent to about 90 percent, with the total number of concurrent users scaling from one to seven users. Distributed-Server Scalability This test scenario measures the performance of the system when a single Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis is equipped with four Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridges. Because the power, cooling, network, and disk I/O resources are shared across all four cartridges, it is important to identify the scalability of the system when a Planet PI4 gaming workload is deployed across several Cisco UCS M-Series cartridges. This scenario imitates a real-world MMOG gaming scenario, in which several distributed instances of MMOGs are deployed across multiple servers. In general, each game instance hosts several game sessions played by user groups across regions or in a same region Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 12 of 15

13 Figure 10. Distributed-Server Scalability Figure 10 shows the user scalability when the MMOG gaming workload (Planet PI4) is deployed across four Cisco UCS M142 compute cartridges. It also demonstrates how network utilization scales across the servers when the deployment of Planet PI4 is distributed across cartridges in a single Cisco UCS M4308 chassis. Some of the observations are: The user count scales linearly when the MMOG gaming workload is distributed across four cartridges: that is, to a total of eight physical servers. The total number of concurrent users scales from 7 users to about 56 users when the MMOG workload is distributed from a single physical server to eight physical servers. Network utilization scales near linearly from about 12 MBps to around 52 MBps when the MMOG workload is distributed from a single server to 8 physical servers. The scalability illustrated in Figure 10 demonstrates that even though network disk I/O is shared across cartridges in a single Cisco UCS M4308 chassis, the distributed MMOG workload scales linearly. This scenario thus demonstrates that Cisco UCS M-Series servers with dense computing cartridges are an excellent platform to deploy distributed MMOG workloads. Distributed Java Workload Performance As demonstrated in the preceding sections, Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers with dense computing cartridges and shared network and storage through Cisco System Link Technology are well suited for MMOG gaming workloads. To further verify the performance of Cisco UCS M-Series servers, a Java distributed workload was deployed to measure the scalability of the system when the workload is scaled from a single Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridge to four compute cartridges. The workload imitates a model based on a worldwide supermarket company with an IT infrastructure that handles a mix of point-of-sale requests, online purchases, and data-mining operations Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 13 of 15

14 Figure 11 illustrates the deployment of a distributed Java workload on Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers. Figure 11. Distributed Java Workload on Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers The Java workload was scaled from a single physical server to eight physical servers deployed on four Cisco UCS M142 compute cartridges. Each cartridge was equipped with two physical servers, with each server having one Intel Xeon processor E3-1275L v3 and 32 GB of physical memory. Figure 12 shows the scalability of the distributed Java workload. Figure 12. Distributed Java Workload Scalability 2015 Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 14 of 15

15 Figure 12 illustrates the linearity of a Java workload when scaled from a single physical server to eight physical servers deployed across four Cisco UCS M142 compute cartridges. The shared cooling, power, network, and disk I/O resources have no effect on the disaggregated server architecture of the Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers. This test further demonstrates that the Cisco UCS M-Series modular platform is an excellent platform for a customer seeking to deploy distributed applications on a farm of bare-metal servers with low operating expenses and capital cost. Conclusion This document demonstrates that the Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers are an excellent solution for customers seeking to deploy distributed MMOG gaming solutions or Java workloads on bare-metal computing servers. The MMOG workload scaled linearly when distributed across four Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridges. Similarly, the tests demonstrated the linear scalability of a distributed Java workload. The Cisco M-Series modular platform powered by Cisco System Link Technology provides shared resources such as network, disk I/O, power, and cooling for eight Cisco UCS M142 Compute Cartridges plugged into a single Cisco UCS M4308 Modular Chassis. With the open XML API and policy-based provisioning, deployment, and management of Cisco UCS, cloud-scale applications can be presented with the exact amount of resources they need from each subsystem. With the addition of the Cisco UCS M-Series platform to the Cisco UCS portfolio, customers can run distributed cloud-scale applications on Cisco UCS M-Series Servers and use dense computing nodes, managed through the award-winning Cisco UCS Manager and connected with the high-bandwidth, low-latency unified fabric that is one of the hallmarks of Cisco innovation. For More Information For more information, see: Cisco UCS M-Series Modular Servers: MMOGs: Planet PI4 architecture: Printed in USA C / Cisco and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public. Page 15 of 15

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