Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

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Goodbye HardOCP - Hello Intel

We have some big changes happening here at HardOCP. Kyle Bennett will be taking on new challenges very soon with Intel working as its Director of Enthusiast Engagement.

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[H]ard News

HP Announces HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset: Professional Edition

HP has announced its latest virtual reality headset which is based on Window Mixed Reality (WMR.) The HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset -- Professional Edition features a 2160 x 2160 panel per eye and 114-degree field of view. It has full Steam VR support and WMR's inside out tracking. The HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset -- Pro Edition will be available for purchase in late-April for $649 and comes with a 1-year commercial warranty. The HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset -- Consumer Edition costs $599 and will have a 1-year limited consumer warranty. Pro Edition price includes: HP VR Headset, 3.5m headset cable for desktop and mobile PCs, .6m headset cable for HP Z VR Backpack wearable VR PC (sold separately), 2 motion controllers, cleanable face cushion, 1 DisplayPort to mini-DisplayPort adapter. The consumer edition doesn't include the .6m headset cable or washable fabric face cushion.

"As the commercial VR segment is expected to grow to $34 billion by 2022, customers are seeking lifelike VR viewing to help open doors to new business opportunities in product design, training, and engineering," said Spike Huang, vice president and global lead of VR, HP Inc. "The time for commercial VR is now and adding HP Reverb to our broader virtual reality portfolio is an important step in addressing this growing market." "With more than 2,500 VR experiences available and counting, Windows Mixed Reality continues to serve as the home for cutting-edge innovations that are fundamentally changing the way we work and play," said Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow, Microsoft. "The HP Reverb headset is an amazing example of the type of innovation we are seeing take place as we push forward and bring the next era of computing -- the era of mixed reality - to the masses."

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider Receives RTX Treatment in Latest Patch

The latest patch for Shadow of the Tomb Raider has enabled support for real time ray tracing and NVIDIA's DLSS. To enable the features, gamers will need Window 10 update 1809 or higher, NVIDIA RTX 20- series GPU, and NVIDIA's latest drivers 419.35 and up. Nixxes announced the creation of a Beta, enabling the ability to switch back to an older version of the game, if problems arise.

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We have just released the thirteenth PC patch for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, build 1.0.280. This patch focuses primarily on the release for the Nvidia's Ray-Traced Shadows and DLSS. While we expect this patch to be an improvement for everyone, if you do have trouble with this patch and prefer to stay on the old version, we have made a Beta available on Steam, Build 279, that can be used to switch back to the previous version.

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Google Partners with AMD for Google Stadia Game Streaming Service

Google has selected AMD as its partner for the Google Stadia game streaming service. Google will use high-performance, custom AMD Radeon datacenter GPUs for its Vulkan and Linux-based Google Stadia. AMD noted how its commitment to open-source AMD Linux drivers would allow Google and its development partners to inspect the code and understand exactly how the driver works, enabling them to better optimize their applications to interface with AMD Radeon GPUs. AMD supplies other tools such as the AMD Radeon GPU Profiler (RGP) that allows developers to identify timing issues that might lead to optimizations. The Google Stadia service will feature game streams with resolutions up to 4K HDR 60 FPS. Google announced a 2019 launch time for the game streaming service.

Streaming graphics-rich games to millions of users on demand and from the cloud requires ultra high-performance processing capabilities to minimize latency and maximize game performance. It also requires advanced technologies to tackle unique datacenter challenges, including security, manageability, and scalability. The AMD graphics architecture supports a wide range of today's gaming platforms -- from PCs to major game consoles -- enabling developers to optimize their games for a single GPU architecture and extend these benefits across multiple platforms which now include large-scale cloud gaming platforms.

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Octane from Apex Legends Is Now Available

Apex Legend's newest playable character is called Octane. The speed runner will have abilities that allow him to trade health for speed, regenerate the health that he lost, and drop a launch pad that shoots him and his teammates into the air. Apex Legends is the latest hit title from Respawn Entertainment. The Battle Pass for Season 1 was recently launched.

Fresh off a record-breaking gauntlet speed-run, Octane is jumping into the Apex Games with even bigger ambitions. With abilities that let him trade health for speed, regenerate the health he lost, and drop a launch pad that shoots him and his teammates into the air, he never has to slow down. Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale game where legendary characters battle for glory, fame, and fortune on the fringes of the Frontier.

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Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

Here is the Google GDC gaming announcement.

Gather around as we unveil Google's vision for the future of gaming at #GDC19.

Discussion

Otherside Teases System Shock 3

We haven't heard much about Otherside's upcoming System Shock sequel recently. They teased the game back in 2016, and have released a few other screenshots and some concept art, but the devs just made a bigger reveal. At Unity's GDC's keynote this year, Otherside Entertainment showed off some in-game footage of System Shock 3. In case it isn't obvious, the devs mentioned that they're building the new game with Unity, and talked quite a bit about the graphics that are going into the game.

As you can see, there's been a couple of concepts and iterations on her face; the team's gone through a couple of versions to match the tone and overall direction of shock3 as development progresses. Some early concepts were just that; concepts made to push your imagination and inspire the developers to think about how they wanted to present Shodan (or perhaps more accurately, how Shodan should be presenting herself in the next game).

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Apple Launches iMac With Coffee Lake and Vega

Today, Apple updated its iMac lineup with 9th generation Intel processors and AMD Vega graphics. The 21.5 inch iMac now sports up to 6 cores, while the 27 inch iMac gets what's presumably a fully enabled 8-core Coffee Lake die. Apple also says they're they're offering "Radeon Pro Vega graphics" in both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs. The subtext reveals that the smaller iMac has an optional "Vega 20" graphics card, while the larger one features the long-rumored Radeon Pro Vega 48. It's not clear if we'll ever see desktop gaming versions of these Vega GPUs, but some people have already pointed out that smaller Vega GPUs could cut into sales for the recently-launched RX 590.

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Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple's four software platforms - iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS - provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple's more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

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AMD Talks 3D Stacking at Rice Presentation

AMD has talked up their "chiplet" based approach used in their upcoming products, and according to some reports, Marvell is already selling products based on the chiplet concept. But the next logical step from that approach is to move from 2D to 3D, where different dies are "stacked" on top of each other. In a recent presentation at Rice University, AMD confirmed that they're working on 3D stacking techniques in their future designs, and that it's a necessary step to keep the improvements coming, but didn't elaborate much beyond that. Check out the memory and stacking talk in the presentation below:

Discussion

Not All RTX 2080s are Created Equal

Manufacturers have had some time to stock store shelves and warehouses with Nvidia RTX laptops, but as Techspot pointed out earlier this year, the nomenclature can be very confusing. The laptop "RTX 2080," for example, doesn't have the same performance as the desktop version of RTX 2080, and there are multiple version of the "RTX 2080 Max-Q" with different levels of performance. Hardware Unboxed tested the performance difference between the various versions, which you can see in the video below:

The fact that Nvidia can cram a 545mm^2 GPU into a low-power laptop at all is remarkable, and generally speaking, the RTX chips perform well in their relatively small power envelopes. But as the video points out, be careful if you're in the market for a gaming laptop, as the actual performance level of some RTX GPUs can be difficult to discern.

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Intel Ice Lake Shows Up In EEC Database

Intel showed off a 10nm Ice Lake "client SoC" at CES this year, and revealed that it will use the "Sunny Cove" CPU architecture. While they gave a few details about the upcoming mobile chips and the core itself, we didn't hear much about Ice Lake in higher power parts. However, Twitter user and data-miner Komachi has once again found some unreleased hardware on the Eurasian Economic Commission's Online Portal. The first listing shows an "Idaville Ice Lake-D Pre-Alpha 85W Clear Linux Internal 32G Physical SDP," suggesting that Intel will brink the upcoming 10nm architecture to their (relatively) high power Xeon-D server chip lineup. Assuming the listing is accurate (as some other EEC listings have been,) this more or less confirms that Ice Lake won't be confined to the realm of low-power laptop chips.

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Meanwhile, the next listing suggests that the low power "Ice Lake-Y" chips will have a "4+2" core config. Intel's current Amber Lake processors top out at 2 cores, so if I'm reading the listing right, it looks like ultra low power notebooks could get a core count boost next generation. There's also an Ice Lake-U "upgrade kit" listing with the same "4+2" core config.

Discussion

MSI Expected to Overtake Samsung in the Curved Monitor Market

A recent report from Digitimes claims that MSI could soon steal the title of "world's largest supplier of curved gaming monitors" from Samsung in 2019. While flat monitors have dominated "gaming monitor" sales in the past, MSI claims that curved monitors accounted for about 60% of all gaming monitor shipments in 2018, and could rise to 66.7% in 2019. The gaming hardware market is still growing, even as the PC market continues to shrink as a whole, so its not surprising to see the big manufacturers increase their focus on their enthusiast and "gaming" lineups.

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The company's motherboard business is currently facing issues including CPU shortages and decreasing demand. Despite Intel having already promised to ease the tight supply by the end of the second quarter, MSI still expects overall motherboard shipments to shrink by over 10% in 2019. MSI shipped around six million motherboards in 2018 and is expected to maintain a similar volume in 2019. Meanwhile, MSI is expected to finish digesting its graphics card inventory in the second quarter and begin promoting Nvidia's new cards to help increase its sales. MSI is expected to deliver around four million graphics cards in 2019, about the same level as in the past couple of years.

Discussion

All Myspace Data Before 2016 is Gone

Thanks to a "faulty server migration," MySpace has lost all data uploaded to the site before 2016. MySpace users started noticing the problem over a year ago, but tech support staff only recently started acknowledging that users' data may never come back. The Guardian claims "50m tracks from 14 million artists have been lost," and according to one of their articles from last year, the site still has many dedicated users.

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Some have questioned how the embattled company, which was purchased by Time Inc in 2016, could make such a blunder. "I'm deeply sceptical this was an accident," wrote the web expert Andy Baio. "Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than, 'We can't be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50m old MP3s.'" Myspace initially claimed the deletion was a temporary error, with customer support staff telling one user: "I have been informed the issue will be fixed." But by July last year it was publicly acknowledging that no such fix was forthcoming.

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Monday March 18, 2019

Real-Time Ray Tracing Support Comes to GeForce GTX GPUs and Game Engines

NVIDIA has announced that real-time ray tracing support is coming to GeForce GTX GPUs. This driver is scheduled to launch in April. GeForce GTX GPUs will execute ray traced effects on shader cores and support is extended to both Microsoft DXR and Vulkan APIs. NVIDIA reminds consumers that its GeForce RTX lineup of cards has dedicated ray tracing cores built directly into the GPU which deliver the ultimate ray tracing experience. GeForce RTX GPUs provide up to 2-3x faster ray tracing performance with a more visually immersive gaming environment than GPUs without dedicated ray tracing cores. NVIDIA GameWorks RTX is a comprehensive set of tools and rendering techniques that help game developers add ray tracing to games. Unreal Engine and Unity have announced that integrated real-time ray tracing support is being built into their engines.

Real-time ray tracing support from other first-party AAA game engines includes DICE/EA's Frostbite Engine, Remedy Entertainment's Northlight Engine and engines from Crystal Dynamics, Kingsoft, Netease and others. Quake II RTX -- uses ray tracing for all of the lighting in the game in a unified lighting algorithm called path tracing. The classic Quake II game was modified in the open source community to support ray tracing and NVIDIA's engineering team further enhanced it with improved graphics and physics. Quake II RTX is the first ray-traced game using NVIDIA VKRay, a Vulkan extension that allows any developer using Vulkan to add ray-traced effects to their games.

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Microsoft Announces Variable Rate Shading Support for DX12

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) is a powerful new API that gives the developers the ability to use GPUs more intelligently. Shaders are used to calculate the color of each pixel in a screen. Shading rate refers to the resolution at which these shaders are called (which is different from the overall screen resolution). A higher shading rate means better visual fidelity at the cost of using more GPU power. All pixels in a frame are affected by the game's shading rate. VSR allows developers to choose which areas of the frame are more important and increase the visual fidelity, or set parts of the frame to have lower fidelity and gain extra performance. Lowering the fidelity of parts of the scene can help low spec machines to run faster.

There are two tiers of support for VRS. First of all the VRS API lets developers set the shading rate in 3 different ways: per draw, within a draw by using a screenspace image, or within a draw, per primitive. The hardware that can support per-draw VRS hardware are Tier 1. There's also a Tier 2, the hardware that can support both per-draw and within-draw variable rate shading. VRS support exists today on in-market NVIDIA hardware and on upcoming Intel hardware. AMD is rumored to be working on support for the feature.

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For example, foveated rendering, rendering the most detail in the area where the user is paying attention, and gradually decreasing the shading rate outside this area to save on performance. In a first-person shooter, the user is likely paying most attention to their crosshairs, and not much attention to the far edges of the screen, making FPS games an ideal candidate for this technique. Another use case for a screenspace image is using an edge detection filter to determine the areas that need a higher shading rate, since edges are where aliasing happens. Once the locations of the edges are known, a developer can set the screenspace image based on that, shading the areas where the edges are with high detail, and reducing the shading rate in other areas of the screen.

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Atari VCS Is Powered by 14nm AMD Ryzen APU with Radeon Vega Graphics

Atari has announced that the upcoming Atari VCS will now be powered by a 14nm AMD processor featuring high-performance Radeon Vega graphics architecture and two "Zen" CPU cores. The hardware team at Atari has replaced the AMD "Bristol Ridge" processor with the new AMD Ryzen APU. The new AMD Ryzen platform will bring welcomed upgrades such as greater efficiency, faster speeds, and cooler temps; allowing the VCS to benefit from a simpler and more effective power architecture and thermal solution. The new processor includes built-in Ethernet, Native 4K video with modern HDCP, and a secure frame buffer that fully-supports DRM video (Netflix, HBO, etc.). The North American schedule is now targeting end of 2019 for delivery of the Atari VCS system for Indiegogo backers. Thanks @MixManSC !

This upgrade will translate to better overall performance in a cooler and quieter box--all with minimal impact to our manufacturing processes. While additional specifications about the new AMD processor will be announced closer to launch, be assured that the new AMD Ryzen processor is a much better fit for this project in multiple ways and will further enable the Atari VCS to deliver on its promise to be a unique and highly flexible platform for creators. Atari cannot thank our great partners at AMD enough for bringing forward this exciting new--and thus-far unannounce -- product for us to utilize in the VCS.

Discussion

Octane Makes His Debut in Apex Legends Season 1

Apex Legends Season 1 Battle Pass has been announced and the newest playable character is named Octane. The Battle Pass costs 950 Apex Coins or $9.50. Players will unlock new rewards for every level that they gain during the season. This includes weapon skins, banner frames, XP boosts and more. Three Wild Frontier-themed Legend skins are immediately unlocked for purchasers of the Battle Pass. There is also a Battle Pass Bundle that has 25 Battle Pass level unlocks included for $28.00.

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Meet Octane After blowing his legs off in a record-breaking gauntlet speed-run, Octavio "Octane" Silva is diving into the Apex Games with metal legs and even bigger ambitions. He's searching for the ultimate adrenaline rush by using his death-defying moves to become an Apex Champion. His Adrenaline Junkie ability lets him trade health for speed, and an endless supply of Stim health regeneration means he's always ready for action. His Launch Pad Ultimate Ability lets his squad fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Jump into Apex Legends and play Octane tomorrow!

Discussion

Intel Delivers First Exascale Supercomputer to Argonne National Laboratory

Intel Corporation and Cray Inc. have announced that a Cray "Shasta" system will be the first U.S. exascale supercomputer. This $500 million Aurora supercomputer will be coming to the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in 2021 and will have a performance of one exaFLOP - a quintillion floating point operations per second. In addition, this system is designed to enable the convergence of traditional HPC, data analytics, and artificial intelligence -- at exascale. The program contract is valued at more than $100 million for Cray, one of the largest contracts in the company's history. The design of the Aurora system calls for 200 Shasta cabinets, Cray's software stack optimized for Intel architectures, Cray Slingshot interconnect, as well as next generation Intel technology innovations in compute processor, memory and storage technologies. Intel's Rajeeb Hazra detailed some of the futuristic technology coming to Aurora including a future generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, the recently announced Intel Xe compute architecture, and Intel Optane DC persistent memory.

"Today is an important day not only for the team of technologists and scientists who have come together to build our first exascale computer -- but also for all of us who are committed to American innovation and manufacturing," said Bob Swan, Intel CEO. "The convergence of AI and high-performance computing is an enormous opportunity to address some of the world's biggest challenges and an important catalyst for economic opportunity."

The Aurora system's exaFLOP of performance -- equal to a "quintillion" floating point computations per second -- combined with an ability to handle both traditional high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) will give researchers an unprecedented set of tools to address scientific problems at exascale. These breakthrough research projects range from developing extreme-scale cosmological simulations, discovering new approaches for drug response prediction and discovering materials for the creation of more efficient organic solar cells. The Aurora system will foster new scientific innovation and usher in new technological capabilities, furthering the United States' scientific leadership position globally.

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Logitech M185 and Other Mice are Vulnerable to Keystroke Injection

According to a recent post on David Sopas' security blog, the very popular, and very cheap, Logitech M185 is vulnerable to a keystroke injection attack. Using a recent version of the "Bettercap" hacking toolkit and a 2.4ghz USB dongle, the security researcher used the mouse to open a script which, in this particular case, simply opened a calculator instance on Windows. While it wasn't on the "affected mouse" list, the M185 is apparently part of a wide variety of mice that are affected by similar exploits. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip, and check out the demonstration below:

Just a simple PoC where I took an Logitech M185 wireless mouse and hijacked it to launch my DuckyScript on the victims machine - in this case just popping up the Windows calculator.

Discussion

Lazareth Teases a Transforming Hoverbike

French car and bike maker Lazareth just teased a flying, turbine powered "hoverbike" that can transform into a motorcycle. No, I wouldn't believe them either, and many were skeptical of the company's claims back when they showed off renderings of the LMV 496 years ago, but they uploaded a live demonstration as proof. The contraption reportedly uses 4 96,000 RPM JetCat jet turbines to lift itself off the ground, and only weights about 308 lb while making as much as 529 lb of thrust. However, what isn't clear is how the bike is powered in "road" mode, or if the prototype's wheels are even powered at all. New Atlas seems to think there's some kind of electric drive train, and I wouldn't be surprised if the turbines were used to drive the car in road mode. Jet turbines have been used to make ridiculously high power motorcycles before, but as far as I know, this is the first one that can fly with them.

Lazareth has hover-tested the bike on tethers to a height of 1 m (3.3 ft), with his brave and lightweight girlfriend Vanessa at the helm... The Lazareth team will be bringing the Moto Volante to Gitex in Dubai this October, and will launch pre-orders there at a price of 496,000 Euros (approx. US$560,000). La Moto Volante joins Jetpack Aviation's Speeder as the only two jet-powered flying motorcycle concepts we've seen to date. Mind you, the Speeder is much more of a single-purpose vehicle without any road capability, and as such we'd expect its flight dynamics to be superior and less compromised. But Lazareth's got a full size prototype in the air that's also road-certified, so congratulations to the Lazareth team for building what must be acknowledged as a ground-breaking multi-mode vehicle.

Discussion

Obsidian Employee is Remaking Star Wars Dark Forces

Jason Lewis, a professional senior environment artist at Obsidian, is reportedly porting the environments of Star Wars Dark Forces to Unreal Engine 4 as a passion project. While port looks significantly better than the 1995 FPS, to say the last, it doesn't feature any shootable enemies yet. If you want to try it out, you should get it while the download link is still up, as Disney has a history of taking down similiar projects (like the KOTOR port to Unreal Engine 4) .

Download the project here before Disney makes it disappear... Thanks so much for watching everyone, and I look forward to seeing you on the battlefield!

Discussion

3DFX's Unreleased Rampage GPU Lives On in 2019

Before 3dfx was shut down, they started developing a "Rampage" GPU that never saw the light of day. Even though the Rampage cards didn't enter mass production, a couple of prototypes were made, and Oscar Barea and Martin Gamero Prieto got their hands on one for their upcoming book on the history of 3dfx. Now, footage of a living, breathing "Rampage 2000" GPU running Quake and other 3D titles for a couple of seconds has appeared on YouTube, suggesting that the company made at least partially functional drivers for the GPU before they went under. Check them out below:

Discussion

What If Zen 2 Actually Sucks?

In some of his recent videos, Scottish YouTuber AdoredTV mentioned that he's often criticized for having a bias towards AMD. Obviously, he doesn't believe that to be true, as he has no problem with positivity or negativity towards any manufacturer, but the criticism apparently inspired him to take a look at the potential performance of Zen 2 based on public demos. As we've noted before, benchmarks and demos from chip designers need to be taken with a grain of salt, so the YouTuber decided to take a closer look at the claims AMD has made, and the conditions they ran the demos in. Check out the analysis below:

What if AMD cherry picked the best scenarios and Zen 2 actually sucks?

Discussion

JPMorgan Chase Uses AI Powered Video Game as a Recruitment Tool

Recent reports claim that JPMorgan Chase are trialing "neuroscience-based video games" from pymetrics as a intern recruiting tool. The games supposedly assess applicants' "social, cognitive and behavioral features, such as attention, memory and altruism," and attempt to identify what job the applicant might be best suited for. But, unlike Amazon's "biased" AI recruiting tool, pymetrics says their "Netflix-like recommendation algorithm" is fair and accurate. As the report mentions, it appears that companies are getting more comfortable with the use of machine learning powered recruitment tools, in spite of the potential pitfalls associated with their use.

Large firms have been increasingly turning to technology to make recruitment and other human resources processes more fair. Systems also include applications that scan performance reviews for unconscious bias or that monitor job ads for phrases that might dissuade a certain demographic from applying ."Our re-imagining of how we hire is part of a broader objective at the firm where we are asking ourselves: 'Can we better meet our diversity goals by broadening the pool of candidates we are considering?'," Mitro said. JPMorgan's pilot will continue with applicants for 2020 internships in the United States, he added, noting that this technology would only be one step of the selection process.

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