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Embedded Linux Conference 2014 Schedule

April 19th, 2014 No comments

The Tenth Embedded Linux Conference (ELC 2014) will take place on April 29 – May 1, 2014 at the San Jose Marriott in San Jose, California. The event will feature 90+ sessions on embedded Linux, Android and IoT with over 450 attendees expected to attend. It will also be co-located with Android Builders Summit and the AllSeen Alliance Hackfest. Even if you can’t attend it’s still interesting to see what will be discussed at the event to get a grasp of on-going developments, learn a few things about different optimization techniques, and so on. So I’ve gone through the sessions’ description, and I’ve designed my own virtual schedule with sessions that could be of interest.

Embedded_Linux_Conference_2014April 29

Linux has taken the embedded world by storm.  Billions (with a ‘B’) of devices have now shipped with a Linux kernel, and it seems unstoppable.  But will the next 10 billion devices ship with Linux or with something else?  How can Linux be specialized for deeply embedded projects, as characterized by the Internet of Things, while still maintaining the network effects of community cooperation and sharing?  Is this possible or even desirable?  The startling truth might be revealed at this keynote. Or, Tim might just rant a bit about device-tree… who knows?

The past year has seen a remarkable growth of interest in super-low-power and super-low-form-factor computing, in the form of ‘wearables’, the ‘Internet of Things’, and the release of exciting new hardware such as Intel’s Quark and Edison SoCs. Taking advantage of this super-small hardware also implies the need for super-small operating systems and applications to match. This talk will describe a super-small-footprint Linux distribution called ‘microYocto”. The main focus will be the kernel and how we achieved what we think is close to the minimal possible kernel footprint, both in terms of static text size and dynamic memory usage. We’ll talk about the tools and methodologies we used and developed to analyze the problem, such as tracing and machine simulation, and will describe the various technologies developed and applied to achieving this minimalistic system.

Many community resources exist about boot time reduction. However, few of them are up to date and share the exact time savings that can be achieved on recent systems. This talk will detail today’s most efficient techniques to reduce boot time. For each of them, figures will be shared, obtained from recent boot time reduction projects and from the preparation of Free Electrons new workshop on this topic. If you attend this talk, you will know which optimization techniques are worth using first, and will save time not exploring techniques that won’t make a significant difference in your project. Don’t tell your boss, and this will leave your more time to contribute to community projects!

In this talk, Chris will describe the internal workings of the Android graphics stack from the Application layer down through the stack to pixels on the screen. It is a fairly complex journey, taking in two different 2D rendering engines, applications calling OpenGL ES directory, passing buffers on to the system compositor, Surface Flinger, and then down to the display controller or frame buffer. All this requires careful synchronisation so that what appears on the screen is smooth, without jitter, and makes efficient use of memory, CPU, GPU and power resources.

Linux-based platforms such as the Beaglebone and Raspberry Pi are inexpensive powerhouses. But, beyond being cool on their own, what else can you do with them? This presentation will step you through the process of building a Wi-Fi enabled, Linux-based robot that you can build without breaking the bank and without special knowledge of robotics and robotic controls.

Since last year, we have been working on supporting the SoCs from Allwinner, a Chinese SoC vendor, in the mainline kernel. These SoCs are cheap, wide-spread, backed by a strong community and, until last year, only supported by an out-of-tree kernel. Through this talk, we would like to share the status of this effort: where we were a year ago, what solutions were in place, where we are currently, and what to expect from the future. We will also focus on the community around these SoCs, the work that is done there, etc.

April 30

GCC is an optimizing compiler, currently most common compiler to build software for Embedded Linux systems like Android, Yocto Project etc. This tutorial will introduce specific optimizations and features of GCC which are less known but could benefit optimizing software especially for embedded use while highlight the effect of common optimizations. While it will focus on squeezing most out of GCC, it will also cover some of “pessimizations” to avoid and will tip the developer to write code thats more conducive (compiler friendly) for general optimizations. They will also get some contrast with other compilers when needed.

Throughout the last two years, a team of engineers at Free Electrons has been involved in mainlining the support for several ARM processors from Marvell, converting the not-so-great vendor-specific BSP into mainline quality code progressively merged upstream. This effort of several hundreds working days, has led to the integration of hundreds of patches in the kernel. Through this talk we would like to share some lessons learned regarding this mainlining effort, which could be useful to other engineers involved in ARM SoC support, as well as detail the steps we have gone through, the mistakes we’ve made and how we solved them, and generally our experience on this project.

This BoFs is intended to bring together anybody that tests the Linux kernel to share best practices and brainstorm new ideas. Topics may range from .config testing, module/built-in drivers, test methods and tools for testing specific driver subsystems, VM/scheduler/interrupt stress testing, and beyond. The discussion is targeted at Linux kernel developers, test engineers, and embedded Linux product teams/consultants with the common task of testing Linux kernel integrity. Attendees should have a firm grasp of building and deploying the kernel as well as kernel/userspace kernel APIs.

Several vendors are getting ready to start enabling the upstream kernel for their upcoming 64-bit ARM platforms, and it opens up a few questions on things that are not quite sorted out yet, especially on the embedded and mobile platforms. This is an open discussion on the issues these maintainers are anticipating, and what we should do about it.

Communication between components is necessary for effective power management in mobile devices. The System Power Management Interface, also known as SPMI, is a standardized bus interface intended to provide power-management related connectivity between components. Josh Cartwright will provide a high-level architectural overview of SPMI and discuss how to leverage the Linux Kernel software interfaces (expected to land in 3.15) to communicate with devices on the bus.

May 1

While Android has been created for mobile devices — phones first and now tablets — it can, nonetheless, be used as the basis of any touch-screen system, whether it be mobile or not. Essentially, Android is a custom-built embedded Linux distribution with a very elaborate and rich set of user-space abstractions, APIs, services and virtual machine. This one-day workshop is aimed at embedded developers wanting to build embedded systems using Android. It will cover Android from the ground up, enabling developers to get a firm hold on the components that make up Android and how they need to be adapted to an embedded system. Specifically, we will start by introducing Android’s overall architecture and then proceed to peel Android’s layer one-by-one.

This half-day workshop is aimed at embedded developers that want to use Android in their embedded designs.

The MIPS processor cores are widely used in embedded platforms, including TVs and set-top-boxes. In most of those platforms dedicated graphics hardware exists but it may be specialized for its use in audio and video signal processing: rendering of web content has to be done in software. We implemented optimizations for the software-based QPainter renderer to improve the performance of Qt —including QtWebKit— in MIPS processors. The target platform was the modern 74kf cores, which include new SIMD instructions suitable for graphics operations (alpha blending, color space conversion and JPEG image decoding), and also for non-graphics operations: string functions were also improved. Our figures estimate that web pages are rendered up to 30% faster using hand-coded assembler fast-paths for those operations.

Software Freedom Conservancy announced last year a renewed effort for cross-project collaborative GPL compliance efforts, including copyright holders from BusyBox, Linux, and Samba. Conservancy uses an internal system of communication and collaboration to take input from stakeholders to discuss and engage in compliance activity to ensure compliance with the GPL throughout the technology industry and particularly in the embedded device market. Compliance with the GPL is the responsibility of copyright holders of the software, and Conservancy helps those copyright holders pursue the work, so those developers can focus on coding. In this talk, the President of Conservancy will discuss how Conservancy handles compliance matters, what matters it focuses on, and how the copyright holders that work with Conservancy engage in a collaborative effort to ensure compliance with the GPL.

Ubuntu Touch is the new Ubuntu-based OS for phones and tablets. Announced at the beginning of 2013, it gives a new UI and design proposal, but also a new way of developing and supporting many different devices, using either the Android HAL or the traditional Linux stack to build the platform. This talk will go over the Ubuntu Touch internals, presenting the technical decisions and also the work that was done to bootstrap this new platform (camera, radio, video decode, GLES and etc) and the future challenges to support a single stack across mobile and the traditional desktop.

These are just a few sessions out of the 90+ sessions available at the Embedded Linux Conference and Android Builder Summit. You can check the full schedule to find out which sessions are most interesting to you.

If you’d like to attend the event, you’ll need to register online.

The attendance fees have significantly gone up compared to last year, at least for hobbyists, but include entrance for both ELC and Android Builder Summit:

  • Professional Registration Fee - US$600 (Was US$500 until March 29, 2014)
  • Hobbyist Fee – US$150
  • Student FeeUS$150

After the events, many videos are usually uploaded by the Linux Foundation, and you should be able to find the list of talks with links to presentation slides oneLinux.org.

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Revolutionary ARM Cortex A104 Leverages the Human Brain and Assets, To Make Smartphones and Tablets Obsolete by 2020

April 1st, 2014 5 comments

The mobile devices we use everyday, such a smartphones and tablets, are all designed around one application processor that’s connected to memories, sensors, a display, some communication modules, and so on. But thanks to the work by ARM, and their Cortex A104, the way we do mobile computing maybe be dramatically transformed in a few years, and mobile devices may completely disappear from the market place. Who is this smartphone killer? Meet ARM Cortex A104 which can connect to the human brain via neurobionic interfaces, and leverage “assets” such as the eyes, ears, and vocal cords.

ARM_Cortex_A104_640pxA display won’t be needed as graphics will be rendered directly in the brain via ARM ImaginationTM Engine, which also handles traditional 2D/3D graphics processing. There will most likely be at least two display modes. If you close your eyes, the system will switch to immersive mode, where everything you see is rendered by the ARM based chip. While your eyes are opened you will be in augmented reality mode, to mixing virtual and real worlds. Applications in this mode are wide ranging, you could see a simple head-on display, or if you feel nostalgic, a virtual tablet or phone could be controlled from your own real hands. Of course, you can also decide to completely live in the reality once in a while, and disable the visual features on your chip, just by thinking about it. For simple command, “think” command will work, but for more complex tasks, you can also use old-fashioned voice commands. Ears can be used for audio recording, and playback. The three other senses, namely smell, touch and taste, will also be supported respectively via your nose, skin and tongue. All can be recorded, and retransmitted to others if need be. The wireless communication protocol will remain standards with protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc… as well as a cellular modem.

ARM_Cortex_A101_Prototype

Experimental Silicon based on ARM Cortex A104

I had the chance to have an exclusive one on one chat with with the director of Innovative Technologies at ARM Ltd, whose full name must remains anonymous, but I’ll refer to him as A.F. below. Here’s the full chat transcript:

CNXSoft: Thanks for accepting to chat with cnx-software, and talk more about this exciting new technology.

A.F.: Thanks for having me.

CNXSoft: Can you tell us how Cortex-A104 came to life?

A.F.: From the very beginning, when we chose the Cortex branding for our fastest and latest ARM SoC, we knew at some points our technology would directly integrate with the brain, and we have been researching brain electronics interfaces for several years already, working at our Cambridge office together with brain experts from the Division of Neurosurgery at Cambridge University. This is state of the art technology, and progress has been slow but steady, and we should be able to get safe and working systems within a few years. We switched naming from double digits (e.g. A17) to three digit (A104) because of the quantum leap allowed by this highly-complex technology.

CNXSoft: What’s the status of development?

A.F.: Basic features are mostly working at this stage, but we still need to work on accuracies, and there’s more work to do with thermal management.There are also legal issues with regards to health, security and privacy, and we are working closely with authorities to bring this IP to market. Installation is currently prohibitively expensive at it requires a team of brain surgeons, but we are working on tiny spider-like surgeon robots, that will be able to perform the installation, removal, and replacement via your nasal cavities at a much lower cost.

Typical Friday Beer Lady at ARM Offices

Typical Friday Beer Lady at ARM Offices

CNXSoft: How do you plan to handle privacy issues, and could a third party potentially taking control of your brain?

A.F.: For privacy issues, no amount of technologies will fix this issue, so this has to be worked out at the legal levels. Security is really critical for obvious reasons, and we are working hard to make sure infiltration risk is close to nil. On the other hand, law enforcement, and military are really excited by this technology, but I can’t really provide much details at this stage.

CNXSoft: You talked about thermal management issues, how would you address these?

A.F.: Every Friday in all ARM offices worldwide, it’s beer day. Based on existing research by Microsoft showing improving coding abilities with the right blood alcohol concentration. We’ve tried this, and noticed some improvements in performance, but with excess temperature that may exceed safe limits. We’ve also noticed significant differences between the type of beer, currently Kingway (China) and Leffe (Belgium) appear to be the best beers, as they do not affect temperature. At ARM, we are committed to get to the root of this problem, and try every possible beers on the planet, and we’ve brought the idea to add a second beer day on Wednesday during a recent board meeting to speed up debugging. We will also have to switch to whisky and other alcoholic beverages at some points. Moreover, we have to consider all type of use for our product, and our QA team has spent a considerable amount of time watching what’s best described as “adult entertainment”, and there were serious thermal issues, and most of time it got really really hot.

CNXSoft: And what about time to market, how fast do you think people will adopt neurochips, considering their may be reticence at first?

A.F.: Technology should be ready in products by 2020, and we believe adoption will be slow at first, because of the initial cost, and many people may feel uneasy getting a brain implant. But as the technology is proved to be safe over time, eventually this will become the norm, and people will just dump their old-fashioned smartphones and tablets, for more personal and powerful brain implants. At a later stage, governments may also make brain implants mandatory, as it would just replace your current ID cards, credit cards, and so on.

CNXSoft: Thanks for taking the time to share more details about ARM Cortex A104.

A.F.: My Pleasure. Bye Bye.

CNXSoft: Bye Bye

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Categories: Processors Tags: arm

Huawei D01 Server Board Features 16 ARM Cortex A15 Cores with up to 64 GB RAM, 3 SATA, 2 GbE Ports

March 18th, 2014 7 comments

During Linaro 14.02 release, I noticed a Huawei D01 board with 16 ARM Cortex A15 core, but details were lacking. Charbax was a Linaro Connect Asia earlier this month, and he could film the board in action, and interview the development team about this server board, and software development.

Huawei D01 Server Board

Huawei D01 Server Board

Huawei D01 specifications:

  • Processor
    • HiSilicon SoC with16 x ARM Cortex-A15 CPU Core @ max. 1.5GHz (up to 84000 DMIPS)
    • Support for CPU configuration as AMP/SMP
    • Configurable Big or Little endian. Default: Little endian
  • System Memory – 2x 64bit DDR3 DRAM Dual Inline Memory up to 1600 MHz, Module(DIMM) sockets:(2)&(3) . Default capacity: 8GB, upgradeable to 64GB
  • Storage – 2x 1Gb NOR Flash, 2x 512MB NAND Flash, 3x SATA III for 2.5″ hard drives or SSD, 1x SD card
  • Connectivity – 2x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1x 10/100Mbit/s FE port
  • Other Peripheral Interfaces
    • 2x USB 2.0 Host ports
    • 2x UART, 4x I2C, 2x SPI supporting four CSs
    • GPIO – 8x LED interfaces, 8x switches
    • 2x Tracer Connector
    • 1x JTAG interfaces( 5×2 pin CPU Connector, ARM Connector)
  • Expansions – 1x PCI Express interfaces, 3x MDIO interfaces
  • Hardware Monitor Subsystem – Power consumption sense
  • Misc -  Power-off and reset buttons

The BIOS resides in the NOR Flash and support update via FTP. The board runs Ubuntu server OS with Linux 3.13 (upgraded to 3.14 soon), and the target market is mostly cloud based applications. Linaro will use the board for developing software for Hisilicon, and as a native ARM build machine.

Watch the video below. Warning: Noisy ARM server!

You can find more technical details on Linaro D01 page.

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Dedicated Hosting Services on ARM Development Boards (Cubieboard2, Raspberry Pi, ODROID…)

March 12th, 2014 11 comments

At least two companies have recently launched hosting services using dedicated ARM servers based on low cost development boards: NanoXion with its NX-BOX service powered by PiBox (Raspberry Pi) and CubieBox (Cubieboard 2) microservers, and miniNodes with servers based on Cubieboard2 first, then ODROID development boards, and possibly AllWinner OptimusBoard once/if it becomes available.

PiBox Dedicated Server

PiBox Dedicated Server

The PiBox will feature a Raspberry Pi Model B with 512 MB RAM, and 16GB Class 10 UHS-1 microSD card by Samsung, and the dual core Cubiebox comes with 1GB RAM and a Crucial M500 SATA III 120GB SSD. Both NX-BOXes run Linux Debian Server NX distribution, support instant remote reboot, with guaranteed 10 Mbps connectivity for IPv4 & IPv6, and unlimited bandwidth. The boards are all hosted in France.

The company expects their ARM servers to be used as private cloud servers, backup servers, private chat servers, web servers, mail servers, DNS Servers, monitoring servers, and well as some other proprietary solutions their customers may come up with.

Pricing starts at 7.19 Euros per month for the PiBox, 11.18 Euros per month for the Cubiebox, including an IPv6 address, and the service requires a commitment of one year.

miniNodes, which is US based, has just started yesterday to offer Cubieboard2 dedicated server for early adopters and enthusiasts. Cubieboard 2 features a dual core AllWinner A20 SoC @1.0 Ghz, 1 GB RAM, and 4 GB NAND that runs Ubuntu Server 13.04. There does not appear to have any external storage in their microservers at this stage, and bandwidth information is not available. The only option is currently hosting costs $19 US per month, but once they officially launch they’ll offer options to purchase clusters with up to 25 Cubieboard2 and more choices for the OS (Ubuntu or Fedora). If everything goes according to plan quad core hardkernel ODROID boards will be added to the line-up soon, and Allwinner Optimus Board powered by AllWinner A80 octa-core processor might also be considered.

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DATA MODUL mini-ITX Board Supports Freescale i.MX6 & Intel Bay Trail-I QSeven Modules

March 5th, 2014 1 comment

DATA MODUL, a specialist supplier of display technology, has recently unveiled eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info, a mini-ITX Baseboard for ARM & x86 Qseven modules optimized to drive large panels for digital signage applications. In theory, the board should support any Qseven modules, but for now only Data Modul’s Freescale i.MX6, and Congatec conga-QA3 Intel Atom E3800 series modules have been optimized and officially certified to work with the motherboard.

DATA MODUL eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info

DATA MODUL eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info (Click to Enlarge)

Precisely, the board is optimized and certified for the following modules:

  • DATA MODUL ARM Qseven SoMs:
    • eDM-QMX6 (i.MX6Quad)
    • eDM-DMX6 (i.MX6Dual)
    • eDM-DLMX6 (i.MX6Dual lite)
  • Congatec x86 Qseven SoMs:
    • Conga-QA3 with Atom E3845 (Quad core)
    • Conga-QA3 with Atom E382x (Dual core). Three models: Atom E3827, E3826 or E3825.
    • Conga-QA3 with Atom E3815 (Single core)

You may have heard about EDM, a competing module standard, previously, but the eDM prefix in the ARM modules or the mini-ITX board names has nothing to do with this standard, as all is based on Qseven standard.

DATA MODUL eDM-mITX-CB-Q7-Info give access to the following external interfaces (depending on the used module) :

  • 1 x RS232
  • Up to 2x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 x USB 2.0/3.0, 1 x USB OTG
  • 1 x DVI-D, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x Audio Line Out

You can also connect a monitor via the 2x 24 Bit LVDS interface, and access more I/Os via connectors on the board including more USB Ports, CAN, SPI, GPIOs, I²C, and SD Card. Optical isolated RS485/422 Interface modules, IR-remote control interface, light sensors, external LEDs, temperature sensors and up to 6 PWM system fans are also available as an option. The company also mention a 2.5″ SATA slot to connect SSD or HDD without cables. It can be seen on the picture, so I’m not sure if it’s another option, or the slot is just at the back of the board. The baseboard can be powered by +12VDC or +24VDC and optionally +5VDC can be supported for standby voltage.

DATA MODUL can provide its own Monitoring Software for Linux (QT) and Windows operating systems.

Availability and pricing information has not been disclosed, and there’s very little information about this ARM/x86 Qseven mini-ITX board except the actual announcement. There are however more details about the company eDM-QMX6 module. Refer to my post about conga-QA3 for more details about the Bay Trail-I Qseven modules.

Via LinuxGizmos

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Linaro Connect Asia 2014 Opening Keynote – Status and Future of ARMv8 Linux & Android [Video]

March 3rd, 2014 No comments

Linaro Connect Asia 2014 has just started in Macau today and will take place until Friday. You can follow the sessions live and/or their recordings via Linaro OnAir YouTube Channel. I’ve watched the opening keynote, and embedded the video at the bottom of this post. The keynote focuses on ARMv8 for Linux and Android on servers, mobile devices, digital home, and more, and involves two main speakers: George Grey, Linaro CEO , and Jon Masters, Chief ARM Architecture at Red Hat.

Linaro_Connected_Asia_2014

The speaker beginning of the video provides some practical information and the schedule for Linaro Connect. The keynote itself really starts around 15:50 with George Grey who spends the first 10 minutes introducing the latest Linaro members: Qualcomm, Mediatek, ZTE, AllWinner and Comcast. He then talks about the new Mobile sub-committee (MOBSCOM) that will focus on big.LITTLE, Android optimization and Android on ARMv8, as well as the soon-to-be-announced Linaro Digital Home Group composed of AllWinner, ARM, Comcast, Fujitsu, HiSilicon, and STMicro, that will work on STB / IPTV software implementation such as secure media playback. A large part of the talk is about boot architecture (ACPI, UEFI, ARM Trusted firmware…), and the debates ACPI vs FDT (Device Tree), U-boot vs UEFI, and so on. Other subjects discussed are ARM security with the recently formed Security Working Group, Virtualization, Middleware working on Aarch64 (LAMP and OpenJDK) and Android on 64-bit. The latter will require a lot more work, and actual hardware for validation of the work done on ARMv8 fast models, and to speed up code development. Finally he quickly mentions Linaro is still working on ARMv7 architecture, and preliminary work is done for Cortex-M with Yocto/OpenEmbedded support.

At the 50 minutes mark, Jon Masters takes over to talk about 64-bit ARM servers. He stresses several key points for ARM to be successful in the server market:

  1. Upstream first (to kernel.org), as Red Hat will only use code from mainline for servers
  2. Single binary required
  3. Must follow standards (SBSA, ACPI, UEFI…)
  4. Default to open (source and communication)

He explains that compared to last year hardware is now available, talks about hyperscale computing, and mention the “up to 25% market share for ARM servers in 2019″ quote from AMD. He explains there are challenges however, and the server market is much different from the embedded world, so CENH (Cute Embedded Nonsense Hacks) are not allowed for ARM servers. Long term (10+ years) support for toolchain and kernel are needed, with backports if necessary, and Fedora/Red Hat will never ever release an OS with a device tree file and/or U-Boot.

Finally he announces a Red Hat ARM Server Developer Preview will be released later this year, compliant with SBSA, and using UEFI and ACPI, and show demo running on Applied Micro X-gene Mustang board running an early version of the developer preview which boots with UEFI, and supports ACPI.

Watch the full keynote below for details (1h30).

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ARM Interview about Cortex A17 Processor [Video]

March 3rd, 2014 1 comment

ARMv8 AnnoucementWhen ARM announced their new Cortex A17 core, I could not quite understand why they would release another core with performance and features somewhat similar to Cortex A12 and Cortex A15. Charbax interviewed Nandan Nayampally, ARM VP of Processor Marketing, at Mobile World Congress 2014 and everything is much more clear now.

Cortex A17 is based on A12, but adds support for big.LITTLE processing support with Cortex A7, and further improves performance. In some work loads Cortex A17 can currently match Cortex A15 performance, and by 2015, Cortex A17 will have performance similar to A15, and replace it in mid range devices as it has a lower footprint and lower cost. High-end products will switch to 64-Bit with Cortex A53 or A57 next year. The interviewee did not say this explicitly but it could be many companies will simply skip Cortex A12, and directly use Cortex A17, just like Rockchip decided to do with RK3288. One last interesting point is that processors using Cortex A17 are likely to use 28nm process due to cost constraints.

Actual products should start to become available in Q4 2014 / Q1 2015.

Via ARMdevices.net

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