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AMD

AMD Launches Ryzen, Claims To Beat Intel's Core i7 Offering At Half the Price (hothardware.com) 174

Reader MojoKid writes: AMD CEO, Dr. Lisu Su took to the stage at AMD's Ryzen tech day yesterday and opened the event with official speeds, feeds, pricing, and benchmark scores for the company's upcoming Ryzen series processors. AMD's goal with Ryzen, which is based on its Zen microarchitecture, was a 40% IPC (instructions per clock) uplift. As it turns out, AMD was actually able to increase IPC by approximately 52% with the final shipping product, sometimes more depending on workload type. Dr. Su also showed the first die shot of an 8-core Ryzen processor, disclosing that it consists of approximately 4.8 billion transistors. AMD's flagship Ryzen 7 1800X 8-core/16 thread CPU will have a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, a boost clock of 4.0GHz, and a 95 watt TDP. AMD claims the Ryzen 7 1800X will be the fastest 8-core desktop processor on the market when it arrives. The next member of the line-up is the Ryzen 7 1700X with a base clock of 3.4GHz and a boost clock of 3.8GHz, also with 8 cores and a 95 watt TDP. Finally, the Ryzen 7 1700 – sans X – is also an 8-core / 16-thread CPU, but it has lower 3.0GHz base and 3.7GHz boost clocks, along with a lower 65 watt TDP. AMD took the opportunity to demo the Ryzen 7 1800X and it was approximately 9% faster than the Core i7-6900K running Cinebench R15's multi-threaded test, at about half the cost. And in another comparison, Dr. Su put the 8-core 7 1700 up against the quad-core Core i7-7700K, converting a 4K 60 FPS video down to 1080P and the Ryzen CPU outpaces the Core i7 by 10 full seconds. Pricing for the three initial Ryzen 7 series processors will undercut competing Intel processors significantly. AMD's Ryzen 7 1800X will arrive at $499, Ryzen 7 1700X at $399, and Ryzen 7 1700 at $329. Based on current street prices, Ryzen will be between 20% — 50% lower priced but AMD is claiming performance that's better than Intel at those price points.
Java

JavaScript Attack Breaks ASLR On 22 CPU Architectures (bleepingcomputer.com) 155

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Five researchers from the Vrije University in the Netherlands have put together an attack that can be carried out via JavaScript code and break ASLR protection on at least 22 microprocessor architectures from vendors such as Intel, AMD, ARM, Allwinner, Nvidia, and others. The attack, christened ASLRCache, or AnC, focuses on the memory management unit (MMU), a lesser known component of many CPU architectures, which is tasked with improving performance for cache management operations. What researchers discovered was that this component shares some of its cache with untrusted applications, including browsers. This meant that researchers could send malicious JavaScript that specifically targeted this shared memory space and attempted to read its content. In layman's terms, this means an AnC attack can break ASLR and allow the attacker to read portions of the computer's memory, which he could then use to launch more complex exploits and escalate access to the entire OS. Researchers have published two papers [1, 2] detailing the AnC attack, along with two videos[1, 2] showing the attack in action.
AMD

AMD Set To Launch Ryzen Before March 3rd (anandtech.com) 91

An anonymous reader shares an AnandTech report: Thanks to some sleuthing from various readers, AMD has accidentally let the cat out of the bag with regards to the official Ryzen launch date. While they haven't specifically given an exact date, the talk to be given by AMD at the annual Game Developer Conference (GDC) says the following: "Join AMD Game Engineering team members for an introduction to the recently-launched AMD Ryzen CPU followed by advanced optimization topics." The GDC event runs from February 27th to March 3rd, and currently the AMD talk is not on the exact schedule yet, so it could appear any day during the event (so be wary if anyone says Feb 27th). At this time AMD has not disclosed an exact date either, but it would be an interesting time to announce the new set of Ryzen CPUs right in the middle of both GDC and Mobile World Congress which is also during that week. It would mean that Ryzen news may end up being buried under other GDC and smartphone announcements.
AMD

AMD Announces X300 and X370 AM4 Motherboards For Ryzen, All CPUs Unlocked (hothardware.com) 71

MojoKid writes: AMD has a lot riding on Ryzen, its new generation CPU architecture that is supposed to return the chip designer to a competitive position versus Intel in the high-end desktop X86 processor market. Late last week, at CES 2017, AMD has lined up over a dozen high-performance AM4 motherboards from five hardware partners, including ASRock, ASUS, Biostar, Gigabyte, and MSI. All AM4 motherboards are built around one of two desktop chipsets for Ryzen, the AMD X370 or X300. Motherboards based on the X370 chipset are intended for power users and gamers. These boards bring more robust overclocking controls and support for dual graphics cards, along with more I/O connectivity and dual-channel DDR4 memory support. The X300 is AMD's chipset for mini-ITX motherboards for small form factor (SFF) system platforms. The X300 also supports dual-channel DDR4 memory, PCIe 3.0, M.2 SATA devices, NVMe, and USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 1. Finally, AMD representatives on hand at CES also reported that all Ryzen processors will be multiplier unlocked, hopefully for some rather flexible overclocking options. There will also be several processors in the family, with varying core counts depending on SKU, at launch.
AMD

AMD Declares Ryzen Will Be a Four-Year Architecture (extremetech.com) 67

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ExtremeTech : Having spent over four years designing the architecture, the company plans to keep it around for at least that long. That's according to CTO Mark Papermaster, who was on-hand to discuss the chip. First things first -- AMD is promising a hard launch for Ryzen, without any paper launches, limited availability, or limited product introductions. When Zen debuts it'll debut in multiple (still unknown) configurations, not a single eight-core part. As PCWorld details, Papermaster also confirmed the four-year target and emphasized that it didn't mean AMD wouldn't iterate the core. "We're not going tick-tock," Papermaster said. "Zen is going to be tock, tock, tock." There are several ways to read this sentence. Tick-tock refers to Intel's previous practice of introducing new CPU architectures in one product cycle and new manufacturing nodes in the other. AMD has never strictly deployed an equivalent approach over multiple product cycles. I wouldn't necessarily conclude that Papermaster is saying AMD won't deploy Zen on new manufacturing nodes over time, but that AMD intends to implement an aggressive series of tweaks and improvements to the current core as time goes by. There's a significant lag between when a design tapes out and when it ships to consumers. This means AMD's CPU design team is almost certainly hard at work on Zen's successor already, even though Zen hasn't actually shipped yet. While I can't make any concrete predictions about how Zen will compete against specific products in Intel's lineup, the demos we've seen and the product information already available has convinced me that Ryzen will be at least a meaningful and significant improvement on AMD's overall power efficiency, performance, and performance-per-watt.
Music

Dell Unveils XPS 27 All-In-One With 10 Speaker Dual 50W Sound System (hothardware.com) 53

MojoKid writes: Over the past couple of years, Dell has been driving a redesign effort of its consumer and commercial product lines and has systematically been updating both design signatures and the technology platforms within them. Dell's premium consumer XPS product line, perhaps more so than any other, has seen the most significant design reinvention with the likes of its XPS 13 and XPS 15 notebook line. At CES 2017, Dell announced the XPS 27 7760 all-in-one PC that has a radically new look that draws at least one design cue from its XPS notebook siblings, specifically with respect to the display bezel, or the lack thereof. Though Dell isn't officially branding the touch-enabled version of XPS 27 with an "InfinityEdge" display, the side and top bezel is cut to a minimum, accentuating a beautiful 4K IPS panel. However, the machine's display might not be the most standout feature of the 2017 Dell XPS 27. Under that display, Dell actually expanded things mechanically to make room not only for a Windows Hello capable camera but a 10 speaker sound system that was designed in conjunction with Grammy Award-winning music producer and audio engineer, JJ Puig, that takes the system's audio reproduction and output capabilities to a whole new level. Its sound system is very accurate with dual 50 watt amplifiers at less than 1% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) and a 70Hz to 20KHz frequency response. Though the system is currently built on Intel's Skylake platform, Kaby Lake versions are imminent and with discrete AMD Radeon R9 M470X graphics, it has decent gaming and multimedia chops as well.
AMD

AMD Unveils Vega GPU Architecture With 512 Terabytes of Memory Address Space (hothardware.com) 125

MojoKid writes: AMD lifted the veil on its next generation GPU architecture, codenamed Vega, this morning. One of the underlying forces behind Vega's design is that conventional GPU architectures have not been scaling well for diverse data types. Gaming and graphics workloads have shown steady progress, but today's GPUs are used for much more than just graphics. In addition, the compute capability of GPUs may have been increasing at a good pace, but memory capacity has not kept up. Vega aims to improve both compute performance and addressable memory capacity, however, through some new technologies not available on any previous-gen architecture. First, is that Vega has the most scalable GPU memory architecture built to date with 512TB of address space. It also has a new geometry pipeline tuned for more performance and better efficiency with over 2X peak throughput per clock, a new Compute Unit design, and a revamped pixel engine. The pixel engine features a new draw stream binning rasterizer (DSBR), which reportedly improves performance and saves power. All told, Vega should offer significant improvements in terms of performance and efficiency when products based on the architecture begin shipping in a few months.
Intel

Intel Core I7-7700K Kaby Lake Review By Ars Technica: Is the Desktop CPU Dead? (arstechnica.co.uk) 240

Reader joshtops writes: Ars Technica has reviewed the much-anticipated Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake, the recently launched desktop processor from the giant chipmaker. And it's anything but a good sign for enthusiasts who were hoping to see significant improvements in performance. From the review, "The Intel Core i7-7700K is what happens when a chip company stops trying. The i7-7700K is the first desktop Intel chip in brave new post-"tick-tock" world -- which means that instead of major improvements to architecture, process, and instructions per clock (IPC), we get slightly higher clock speeds and a way to decode DRM-laden 4K streaming video. [...] If you're still rocking an older Ivy Bridge or Haswell processor and weren't convinced to upgrade to Skylake, there's little reason to upgrade to Kaby Lake. Even Sandy Bridge users may want to consider other upgrades first, such as a new SSD or graphics card. The first Sandy Bridge parts were released six years ago, in January 2011. [...] As it stands, what we have with Kaby Lake desktop is effectively Sandy Bridge polished to within an inch of its life, a once-groundbreaking CPU architecture hacked, and tweaked, and mangled into ever smaller manufacturing processes and power envelopes. Where the next major leap in desktop computing power comes from is still up for debate -- but if Kaby Lake is any indication, it won't be coming from Intel. While Ars Technica has complained about the minimal upgrades, AnandTech looks at the positive side: The Core i7-7700K sits at the top of the stack, and performs like it. A number of enthusiasts complained when they launched the Skylake Core i7-6700K with a 4.0/4.2 GHz rating, as this was below the 4.0/4.4 GHz rating of the older Core i7-4790K. At this level, 200-400 MHz has been roughly the difference of a generational IPC upgrade, so users ended up with similar performing chips and the difference was more in the overclocking. However, given the Core i7-7700K comes out of the box with a 4.2/4.5 GHz arrangement, and support for Speed Shift v2, it handily mops the floor with the Devil's Canyon part, resigning it to history.
AMD

AMD Debuts Radeon FreeSync 2 For Gaming Displays With Stunning Image Quality (venturebeat.com) 67

AMD announced Tuesday it is introducing Radeon FreeSync 2, a new display technology that will enable monitors to show the exact intended image pixels that a game or other application wants to. The result will be better image quality for gamers, according to AMD. From a report on VentureBeat: With the FreeSync 2 specification, monitor makers will be able to create higher-quality monitors that build on the two-year-old FreeSync technology. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD is on a quest for "pixel perfection," said David Glen, senior fellow at AMD, in a press briefing. With FreeSync 2, you won't have to mess with your monitor's settings to get the perfect setting for your game, Glen said. It will be plug-and-play, deliver brilliant pixels that have twice as much color gamut and brightness over other monitors, and have low-latency performance for high-speed games. AMD's FreeSync technology and Nvidia's rival G-Sync allow a graphics card to adjust the monitor's refresh rate on the fly, matching it to the computer's frame rate. This synchronization prevents the screen-tearing effect -- with visibly mismatched graphics on different parts of the screen -- which happens when the refresh rate of the display is out of sync with the computer.
Intel

Overclocker Pushes Intel Core i7-7700K Past 7GHz Using Liquid Nitrogen (hothardware.com) 139

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: If you've had any doubts of Intel's upcoming Kaby Lake processor's capabilities with respect to overclocking, don't fret. It's looking like even the most dedicated overclockers are going to have a blast with this series. Someone recently got a hold of an Intel Core i7-7700K chip and decided to take it for an overclocking spin. Interestingly, the motherboard used is not one of the upcoming series designed for Kaby Lake, but the chip was instead overclocked on a Z170 motherboard from ASRock (Z170M OC Formula). That bodes well for those planning to snag a Kaby Lake CPU and would rather not have to upgrade their motherboard as well. With liquid nitrogen cooling the processor, this particular chip peaked at just over 7GHz, which helped deliver a SuperPi 32M time of 4m 20s, and a wPrime 1024M time of 1m 33s. It's encouraging to see the chip breaking this clock speed, even with extreme methods, since it's a potential relative indicator of how much headroom will be available for overclocking with more standard cooling solutions.
Businesses

The Loyalty To AMD's GPU Product Among AMD CPU Buyers Is Decreasing (parsec.tv) 157

An anonymous reader shares a report: Data from the builds on PCPartPicker show an interesting trend among the buyers of AMD CPUs. Of the 25,780 builds on PCPartPicker from the last 31 months with a price point between $450âS - $5,000, 19% included an AMD CPU. This is in-line with the Steam Hardware Surveys, but things have changed recently. Builds with AMD CPUs tend to be much less expensive than those with Intel CPUs. The builds with an AMD CPU were $967 on average versus the Intel CPU builds, which were on average $1,570. In the last 31 months, brand loyalty to AMD seemed to push AMD CPU builders to choose AMD graphics cards at a much higher rate than Intel CPU builders. 55% of machines with an AMD CPU also had an AMD GPU; whereas, only 19% of builds with an Intel CPU included an AMD GPU. In the last six months, AMD has started to lose even more ground to Intel and to Nvidia. On the CPU builds, only 10% of gamers building on PCPartPicker were opting to buy an AMD CPU. Among these, the percentage that decided to pair their AMD CPU with an AMD GPU dropped to 51%. The challenges that AMD is seeing in the overall GPU market are being felt even amongst their loyal supporters.
AMD

AMD Unveils First Zen Desktop Processor Details, Picks 'Ryzen' To Brand Zen CPU (hothardware.com) 113

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: AMD has just officially unveiled that desktop variants of its Zen processor family will now be branded RYZEN. Zen-based processors will eventually target desktops, servers, and mobiles device, but the first wave of products will be targeted at the performance desktop market, where gamers and VR continue to spur growth. AMD is positioning RYZEN as a high-performance option and though there will be other core configurations as well, AMD has disclosed that one of the high-end options in the initial RYZEN line-up will feature 8 cores (16 threads with SMT) and at minimum a 3.4 GHz base clock, with higher turbo frequencies. That processor will also be outfitted with 20MB of cache -- 4MB of L2 and 16MB of L3 -- and it will be infused with what AMD is calling SenseMI technology. SenseMI is essentially fancy branding for the updated branch predictor, prefetcher, and power and control logic in Zen. AMD's upcoming AM4 platform for RYZEN will be outfitted with all of the features expected of a modern PC enthusiast platform. AM4 motherboards will use DDR4 memory and feature PCIe Gen 3 connectivity, and support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, NVMe, and SATA Express. Performance demos of RYZEN shown to members of the press pit a stock Intel Core i7-6900K (3.2GHz base, 3.7GHz turbo) with Turbo Boost that was enabled on the 6900K, versus RYZEN with boost disabled running at 3.4GHz flat. In the demo, the RYZEN system outpaced the Core i7-6900K by a few seconds.
AMD

AMD Introduces Radeon Instinct Machine Intelligence Accelerators (hothardware.com) 55

Reader MojoKid writes: AMD is announcing a new series of Radeon-branded products today, targeted at machine intelligence and deep learning enterprise applications, called Radeon Instinct. As its name suggests, the new Radeon Instinct line of products are comprised of GPU-based solutions for deep learning, inference and training. The new GPUs are also complemented by a free, open-source library and framework for GPU accelerators, dubbed MIOpen. MIOpen is architected for high-performance machine intelligence applications and is optimized for the deep learning frameworks in AMD's ROCm software suite. The first products in the lineup consist of the Radeon Instinct MI6, the MI8, and the MI25. The 150W Radeon Instinct MI6 accelerator is powered by a Polaris-based GPU, packs 16GB of memory (224GB/s peak bandwidth), and will offer up to 5.7 TFLOPS of peak FP16 performance. Next up in the stack is the Fiji-based Radeon Instinct MI8. Like the Radeon R9 Nano, the Radeon Instinct MI8 features 4GB of High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) with peak bandwidth of 512GB/s. The MI8 will offer up to 8.2 TFLOPS of peak FP16 compute performance, with a board power that typical falls below 175W. The Radeon Instinct MI25 accelerator will leverage AMD's next-generation Vega GPU architecture and has a board power of approximately 300W. All of the Radeon Instinct accelerators are passively cooled but when installed into a server chassis you can bet there will be plenty of air flow. Like the recently released Radeon Pro WX series of professional graphics cards for workstations, Radeon Instinct accelerators will be built by AMD. All of the Radeon Instinct cards will also support AMD MultiGPU (MxGPU) hardware virtualization technology.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.9 Officially Released (kernel.org) 80

"As expected, today, December 11, 2016, Linus Torvalds unleashed the final release of the highly anticipated Linux 4.9 kernel," reports Softpedia. prisoninmate shares their article: Linux kernel 4.9 entered development in mid-October, on the 15th, when Linus Torvalds decided to cut the merge window short by a day just to keep people on their toes, but also to prevent them from sending last-minute pull requests that might cause issues like it happened with the release of Linux kernel 4.8, which landed just two weeks before first RC of Linux 4.9 hit the streets... There are many great new features implemented in Linux kernel 4.9, but by far the most exciting one is the experimental support for older AMD Radeon graphics cards from the Southern Islands/GCN 1.0 family, which was injected to the open-source AMDGPU graphics driver...

There are also various interesting improvements for modern AMD Radeon GPUs, such as virtual display support and better reset support, both of which are implemented in the AMDGPU driver. For Intel GPU users, there's DMA-BUF implicit fencing, and some Intel Atom processors got a P-State performance boost. Intel Skylake improvements are also present in Linux kernel 4.9.

There's also dynamic thread-tracing, according to Linux Today. (And hopefully they fixed the "buggy crap" that made it into Linux 4.8.) LWN.net calls this "by far the busiest cycle in the history of the kernel project."
AMD

Researchers Point Out 'Theoretical' Security Flaws In AMD's Upcoming Zen CPU (bleepingcomputer.com) 57

An anonymous reader writes from a report via BleepingComputer: The security protocol that governs how virtual machines share data on a host system powered by AMD Zen processors has been found to be insecure, at least in theory, according to two German researchers. The technology, called Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV), is designed to encrypt parts of the memory shared by different virtual machines on cloud servers. AMD, who plans to ship SEV with its upcoming line of Zen processors, has published the technical documentation for the SEV technology this past April. The German researchers have analyzed the design of SEV, using this public documentation, and said they managed to identify three attack channels, which work, at least in theory.

[In a technical paper released over the past weekend, the researchers described their attacks:] "We show how a malicious hypervisor can force the guest to perform arbitrary read and write operations on protected memory. We describe how to completely disable any SEV memory protection configured by the tenant. We implement a replay attack that uses captured login data to gain access to the target system by solely exploiting resource management features of a hypervisor." AMD is scheduled to ship SEV with the Zen processor line in the first quarter of 2017.

AMD

AMD's Major Radeon Software Graphics Driver Update Goes Live With Gameplay Capture, More (venturebeat.com) 98

Advanced Micro Devices, or AMD is launching an update for its Radeon graphics drivers that will help PC gamers enjoy more power-efficient gameplay during the holiday season. Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition offers high-performance gaming and better stability for consumers, professionals, and developers. From a report on VentureBeat: The new edition enables power-efficient gameplay with Radeon Chill and seamless in-game screen capture and streaming with Radeon ReLive. For designers, content creators, and game developers, Radeon Pro Software Crimson ReLive Edition delivers productivity and stability with up to 30 percent performance improvements in key applications. With Radeon ReLive, gamers can "relive" their gameplay by capturing, streaming, and sharing recorded gaming sessions. Highly efficient with minimal impact to gameplay, Radeon ReLive enables seamless playback of ReLive recordings via an easily accessible in-game toolbar, and offers quick and convenient customizable settings, custom scene layouts, and more, AMD said. With Radeon ReLive, gamers now have a way to capture gaming highlights, and share their gaming exploits and conquests with online friends and competitors -- all integrated within Radeon Software.
AMD

Not a Bad Quarter To Be a GPU Vendor (pcper.com) 16

Jeremy Hellstrom, writing for PC Perspective (edited):Compared to Q2 2016, total GPU shipments including discrete and integral chips in the mobile and desktop markets increased by 20%; good but not enough to recover from the volume we saw in Q3 2015. Individually, total AMD sales increased by 15%, and Intel saw 18% boost, but it was NVIDIA that was the most successful with an impressive 39% increase. In AMD's case, it saw sales of its aging desktop APUs drop by 10% but that was quickly offset by a jump in discrete GPU sales of 34.7% and an increase in laptop demand by 19.1%. The discrete GPU market as a whole has grown by 35.6% compared to the last quarter and by 10.1% when compared to last year. This is not bad news for AMD or Intel but it is certainly NVIDIA which has the most to celebrate.
Cloud

Google Cloud Will Add GPU Services in Early 2017 (geekwire.com) 19

Google Cloud will add GPUs as a service early next year, the company has said. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM's Bluemix all already offer GPU as a service. From a report on GeekWire: Google may be seeking to distinguish itself, however, with the variety of GPUs it's offering. They include the AMD FirePro S9300 x2 and two offerings from NVIDIA Tesla: the P100 and the K80. And Google will charge by the minute, not by the hour, making GPU usage more affordable for customers needing it only for short periods. CPU-based machines in the cloud are good for general-purpose computing, but certain tasks such as rendering or large-scale simulations are much faster on specialized processors, Google explained. GPUs contain hundreds of times as many computational cores as CPUs and excel at performing risk analysis, studying molecular binding or optimizing the shape of a turbine blade. Google's GPU services will be available in early 2017 through Google Compute Engine and Google Cloud Machine Learning.
Desktops (Apple)

New MacBook Pro's Dedicated AMD Graphics Chips Are 'Significantly' Faster and Support Dual 5K Displays (macrumors.com) 170

Whereas Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pros feature integrated Iris Pro graphics, the 15-inch MacBook Pros feature dedicated AMD graphics, resulting in significant performance improvements over previous MacBook Pro models. Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham found the Radeon Pro 455 graphics chip in particular to be a "significant boost" over the dedicated GPUs available in the 2012-2015 MacBook Pro models, such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 650M, Nvidia GeForce GTX 750M, and AMD Radeon R9 M370X. MacRumors reports: AMD's Polaris-based Radeon Pro 450, Radeon Pro 455, and built-to-order Radeon Pro 460 GPUs in the new 15-inch MacBook Pro support up to six displays, whereas Intel's integrated GPUs affixed to the logic board can drive a total of three displays. The expanded support enables the new MacBook Pro to drive two of Apple and LG's new UltraFine 5K displays at 60Hz simultaneously. Intel's GPUs can't because, due to bandwidth limitations of the DisplayPort 1.2 spec, the two 5K displays technically function as four displays. This method is known as Multi-Stream Transport (MST). Apple could have used Nvidia's faster Pascal-based GPUs, which support DisplayPort 1.3, but Thunderbolt 3 and most monitors do not support the higher-bandwidth spec yet. In the meantime, Nvidia's GPUs can only drive up to three displays beyond the main MacBook Pro screen -- not enough for dual 5K displays over MST. Apple officially says the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers up to 130% faster graphics performance, and up to 2.5x more computing power per watt, compared to the previous-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro, but those stats are based on the built-to-order Radeon Pro 460 chip that costs between $100 and $200 extra.

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