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Intel Portables Hardware

Intel and Laptop RAID? 366

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-my-laptops-do-always-lose-hard-drives dept.
Might E. Mouse writes "The next version of Centrino, codenamed Napa, will support RAID. Intel is pushing it as a great way for business users to have added reliability and data backup on their work notebooks. Should boost gaming performance too. Anyone for 2.5GHz Pentium M, GeForce 7800 Go graphics and a 200GB RAID array? "
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Intel and Laptop RAID?

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  • Work backups (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:20PM (#13398894) Homepage
    In a workplace environment, you should not trust your users (or their machines) with their own backups. I like the situation at my workplace:

    If we're plugged into the corporate network, we have software running that will periodically backup everything you place in your 'My Documents' folder or some other such folder. Users know that if they want something backed up, they put their data there.
    • Re:Work backups (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bombadillo (706765) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:23PM (#13398935)
      Raid is not for backups. Raid is intended to keep the machine running in the event of a hardware failure.
      • Re:Work backups (Score:4, Interesting)

        by fire-eyes (522894) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:40PM (#13399135) Homepage
        Raid is not for backups. Raid is intended to keep the machine running in the event of a hardware failure.

        Indeed. I learned this in an important, almost "hard" way.

        I had my home system on a 2x120GB raid1 setup, with no spare. I made daily full backups to another stand alone disk.

        Imagine my surprise when they both started acting up, in the same way, at the same time. Eventually, they both completely died on the same day.

        What had happened was my power supply had gone bad, though not died. It was outputting dirty power, and slowly damaged both drives. It also smoked the on board IDE controller, requiring an add on replacement.

        Why it did not damage the disk i had backups on, I am not sure. The only thing I can think of is that I always spun the drive down after backups.

        So, excellent point you have there.
      • There is some overelap. Raid is not a reliable backup but one can think of it as a continuous local backup that will mostly prevent against downtime in case of a disk failure. Plus it might provide some increased disk read performance

        But if lightning strikes your laptop, raid might not help much. If someone steals the machine, raid won't be there to save your data. That is what remote backup is for. But then, of course, some data between backup and the moment of failure will be lost.

        So the best bet is t

      • Re:Work backups (Score:2, Informative)

        by FireFlie (850716) *
        Raid is intended to keep the machine running in the event of a hardware failure.

        ... by backing up the data. Part of the purpose of raid is increased data integrity [wikipedia.org].

        The first definition of data integrity from wikipedia is: 1. The condition that exists when data is unchanged from its source and has not been accidentally or maliciously modified, altered, or destroyed.
        Sounds like a backup to me. Sure it won't stop you from deleting a file from both drives, but it will act as a back-up in the event that a

      • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:58PM (#13399334)
        > keep running in the event of a hardware failure

        Which, on a laptop, invariably happens at 9.8m/s^2.

        • Re:Work backups (Score:3, Informative)

          by HuguesT (84078)
          Actually, technically all laptops are absolutely fine at 9.8m/s^2. This is the acceleration they feel by sitting sill on a table for example.

          When they do fall for a while they experience a marked deceleration, and then later a huge acceleration again, much higher than g.

          This is the latter they don't like ;-)

          • Re:Work backups (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dusanv (256645)
            Moderators on crack strike again:

            This is the acceleration they feel by sitting sill on a table for example.
             
            If you're sitting still, you are NOT, I repeat, NOT accelerating. I almost wet my pants reading this. Also, when they fall, they acclerate exatcly at 9.81 m/s^2. They would accelerate more on Jupiter but here on Earth, it's roughly 9.81.
    • couldn't you just use roaming profiles? if "My Documents" really points to \\servername\username\my documents then you're set.
  • Why do this? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreold (827386) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:20PM (#13398895)
    More weight, more things to break, less battery life...

    Nothing beats proper backup and/or syncing tools and procedure.

    • Don't forget more heat from extra harddrive(s).

      Which, in the example the editor posted, is a big concern with that hardware.

      Some generation of laptops with fast CPU's and crappy everything-else still generate too much heat to be considered reliable. USB ports will stop working, etc. And don't even bring up those cooling pads, cuz if your laptop overheats to the point of freezing or crashing chances are that cooling pad will not make up the difference.
      • And thus we see the need to make people work better as heatsinks. This is the excuse I use to fly naked (plus the full body cavity searches at the security checkpoints go faster).
    • More weight, more things to break, less battery life...

      How is this idea:

      Take a single hard drive and do a RAID1 on opposite sides of the same platter. You'd have half of the storage but twice the integrity.
  • by digitalgimpus (468277) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:20PM (#13398898) Homepage
    I have a Pentium 4M in a Thinkpad.

    I have had 2 HD's (non-raid) for a couple years now. One of which is a 7200 RPM drive.

    I don't think this would work as a RAID for power reasons. Unless some new battery technology really takes off... how could this be viable? I couldn't imagine if both drives were used at the same time. My laptop is normally plugged in (that's when I use the 2nd HD). But unplugged... it would be a nightmare.

    Until nuclear batteries are perfected... this is vaporware in my mind.
    • I totally agree. The power and noise generated by this extra spinning of the hard drive just sounds contrary to the whole Centrino=MoreBatteryLife scheme. On top of that not many people have huge amounts of storage on their laptop to facilitate a good RAID config.
      • Contrary? Not exactly. If you save power on the chip, you can afford a little more for the drive(s), though it does seem a bit too much like the "These are 'lite' cookies so I can eat twice as many" strategy.

        Or all the classes I had in college where they explained that since hard drives were getting bigger and processors were getting faster, there was no point in trying to optimize your code. (Seriously!)
    • Modern hard drives (even 7200RPM models) don't use a terribly large amount of power. Having both drives active at the same time would shorten battery life, yes, but not significantly.

      You can set your drives up in software RAID right now without any trouble, if I'm not mistaken.
      • having 2 drives... I can confirm it does cut down life of the battery a bit.

        The problem is also the screen. Nobody seems to want a 12" screen anymore. It's 15" or larger.

        We want battery eating features... but don't have the power for them.

        IMHO this makes giant portable computers. Not true laptops. There is a difference.
    • So that is why Intel is coming out with these new low-power chips for laptops. They have to save some power for all the other junk they want to cram in.
  • It is about time they started putting Raid on Laptops. I don't care about any split second improvement in games but just to be able to have a way to keep the data backed up and running so when mr. Marketing goes to his clients and his drive crashed he is not yelling at you that he couldn't do the presentation and he wont yell at you even more when the project he was working on for 3 months is suddenly gone, and he ignored your requests to backup his data on the network when he has the time.
    • Re:About Time. (Score:3, Informative)

      The title really should be HARDWARE RAID. Software RAID has always been possible on laptops.

    • Re:About Time. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OrangeTide (124937)
      More than likely it will be a controller failure or software failure that destroys his data. RAID won't protect you from that. It's important to install automatic backup software on all of Mr. Marketing's computers. There are some remote back-up packages for Windows that even work over dial-up. (although more than likely Mr. Marketing will be in a hotel with broadband when he's on the road).
    • And performance is only increased depending on the RAID levels available. Most likely they will be simply 0 or 1. With 0 you'll get performance, with 1 you'll get security. The article implies you'll get both, which really isn't accurate.
      • And performance is only increased depending on the RAID levels available. Most likely they will be simply 0 or 1. With 0 you'll get performance, with 1 you'll get security. The article implies you'll get both, which really isn't accurate.

        Well, you get performance boost from the striping and a lot of disk space from level 0. You get a read performance boost by reading from which ever disk is idle without too much of a write performance hit (if both writes can be done in parallel), a large disk space hit, a
      • Actually, 1 will give you improved Read performance. You can read from two disks simultaneously, so you can get improved performance.

        Most RAID controllers offer you the option of 0, 1, 0+1 and 5.

        Z.
  • Don't forget... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rhsanborn (773855) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:21PM (#13398903)
    ...a 10lb. addition because you have 4 disks attached to the bottom of your laptop, and I hope you can strap the battery to your back because its going to go quick spinning more than one drive.
  • issues (Score:4, Funny)

    by fuelvolts (852701) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:22PM (#13398913)
    Sounds great, but what about battery life? That hing would eat a 6 or 8 cell Li-ion battery for breakfast. Why would a businessman want a laptop that is heavy (2 HDs and bigger battery) low battery life and bulky? Sounds good in theory, but doesnt work - like communism. In summary - that is the laptop for communists.
  • That's all you need for XviD or DivX and more than you need for older games.
    Eventually they'll come to terms with the fact that laptops CANNOT play the newest and greatest games, and they will start releasing laptops that can play strategy/RPGs/Emu's just fine and offer substantially higher battery life.
    Transmeta started trying to do this but weren't successful perhaps we'll see it in the coming generations of >$500 laptops.
  • Maybe laptop RAID would make sense w/ some kind of solid state storage device, but not with laptop HDs. Wouldn't it make more sense just to use a 10K RPM 3.5" hard drive?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:23PM (#13398928)
    Slow hard drive speeds are one of the chief bottlenecks to performance on laptops. Setting up a RAID 0 configuration would give you some added speed.
  • by guacamole (24270) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:23PM (#13398933)
    If I needed to backup a laptop, I'd just buy a $30 external USB or Firewire enclosure and a hard drive and look for software that can do incremental backups. Having an additional hard drive inside of laptop spinning all the time only adds more cost, weight, and power consumption..

  • Battery life (Score:2, Insightful)

    by toadgee (744814)
    So basically any power that may have been saved from their new chipsets (IIRC they were better on power consumption) can now be bypassed by adding another hard drive. And with networked docking stations at the company that routinely perform network backups, I wonder how big the target audience is for mobile RAID devices. Pretty soon we'll see notebook computers that are just as big as desktops -- multiple hard drives, huge monitors, etc. I was sitting next to a lady on a flight about a year ago that reache
  • by sH4RD (749216)
    Anyone for 2.5GHz Pentium M, GeForce 7800 Go graphics and a 200GB RAID array

    Sure, but that definately depends on battery life. RAIDs are old news, go see Hypersonic [hypersonic-pc.com]. But I wouldn't exactly consider those lugs laptops.
  • How many of the people that get these are gonna end up striping their disks instead of mirroring them, thereby negating the entire "data reliability" argument?
    • I can't imagine these set-ups are going to be marketed to your average consumer though. This is great if your working on something important and need to keep working ,, but these will just be on top of the line business machines and perhaps some odd gaming laptops.
      Other than that i can see it adding a fair premium over models without the capabilities

      • No, they're not aiming for typical consumers. They are aiming for your typical PHB though. And it'll be fun explaining to your PHB that the two 80GB drives in there don't necessarily mean he gets 160GB of storage. When you mention redundancy and extra data security he'll question why you ordered him such crappy equipment that they needed to double up on it. Or if you stripe them for extra speed and one drive fails, he'll say "But I thought RAID meant it was redundant." Overall, I'd say it's best just not to
  • software raid?

    It's easy to setup and only requires access to the media [e.g. P/S ATA, SCSI, USB, whatever].

    Tom
  • Why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by keilinw (663210) * on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:25PM (#13398957) Homepage Journal
    I saw in some of the postings that people DID NOT like the idea of laptop raid. Well, I'm wondering WHY NOT? Any customer who is likely to care about RAID probably isn't the most mobile user (hence not caring quite as much about batterly life). But, I'm afraid of doing certain things on my laptop for fear of it crapping out or worse, getting stolen. For me DATA redundancy is a MUST.

    Additionally, Intel's new chips are supposedly VERY power efficient. If they can make future laptops with RAID sans the power problems... great.

    But the real issue is probably COST. If you don't know what RAID is you aren't going to buy it....and its not going to increase cost THAT MUCH. But for those of us who DO know what raid is and either want increased performance or reliability.... there is a market! I don't really like having limited options when I'm making a choice, so having the OPTION of RAID is exactly what I WANTED. --Matt Wong
    • If you're afraid of it being stolen, I don't believe that the RAID is going to help you.
    • Alright, sure, RAID as an option. I'd kind of prefer to have a single-platter, fast single hard disk with a ton of cache, NCQ, and all of the other SATA goodies over a heavy, hot, power-hungry RAID array that will perform maybe 1.2-1.5 times better than a single drive solution. I mean, even with RAID you've still got an integrated quasi-RAID controller that doesn't have any cache RAM, isn't truly fault tolerant, and does very little on its own as far as data processing (it passes most of that to the CPU any
      • First of all I didn't RTFA I just looked at the picture. Why? Because I don't care.

        I doubt that RAID0 will be a popular configuration for this however that's what I'd do because I hate the slowness of my laptop's HD and I backup plenty often.

        That said, RAID0 generaly does a good deal better than 20% faster. In my experiance, as an owner of 3 RAID arrays all in RAID0 I found 50% better was the minimum. Although on who knows, right?

        That said, most people wouldn't want RAID0 in a laptop they want RAID1 so that
  • Laptop Raid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vermicious (533005)
    I have a laptop with RAID right now. Sager has a model or two with Promise Raid support. I don't use it since the second harddrive failed, but I was using it before that in a striped RAID config - it did boost performance a bit.
  • Nice! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:26PM (#13398969) Homepage Journal
    IO on laptops is still one of the worst problems about using a laptop. What good is a 2+ ghz cpu when you have to wait for IO all the time. And with newer laptops having 2 HD's, might as well raid em.

    Sure lots of "dont need it" posts today, only downside is battery life.

    Screw games, work on some server logs and try to do some statstics, give me faster HD access now. (I upgraded my 5200 to a 7200 HD, night and day difference.)
  • Ass Backwards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bobartig (61456) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:27PM (#13398979) Homepage
    To increase the reliability of your data backup, you need to move it to a medium that is more stable than the original copies. It also needs to be remote from the original. If you're working on a laptop, having the data striped on your laptop is of hardly any use. Flood, fire, electrical surge, theft, accidental damage will all happily destroy both copies of your data, since they're in the same place.

    Now where would I like to see a laptop raid? In a mobile media workstation! Video editors, sound guys, they'd love the extra throughput of a raid 0 that fits in their briefcase.
  • by PhYrE2k2 (806396) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @01:30PM (#13399014)
    First off, RAID-1 (I imagine they won't have >2 drives in a notebook) will not increase speed, as it's just a mirror- a write takes the same time, writing to both drives equally. A read generally only pulls from one drive at a time. If they have >2 drives, you could get some increased speed from the drive to the controller.

    Second, won't this be bad for battery life having a second 4200RPM drive in your notebook? Not to mention weight?

    Third, any money says it'll use the onboard memory for its RAID controller or maybe even software RAID, meaning it, like onboard video will slow your computer down.

    For an argument for it, lets turn to my former partner:

    Any video card must keep the monitor refreshed. That means reading the entire video buffer at whatever the refresh frequency is.

    Let's say you're running 1024x768, 16bpp, 75Hz. This is quite conservative, obviously. Bandwidth consumption? Well the video buffer is 1024x768x2 bytes = 1.5MB. Read it 75 times per second and you are eating 112.5MB/s of your main memory bandwidth. You just lost 14MHz of your RAM clock speed.

    Picking some more realistic numbers: 1280x1024, 32bpp, 85Hz. This is a much more typical configuration. Bandwidth consumption here... video buffer is 5.0MB, read 85 times per second == 425MB/s. You've now lost about 53MHz of your RAM clock speed.

    These numbers assume that the video card is doing nothing but refreshing the screen. Obviously that's not realistic. If you're just typing a document then you're likely pushing about 10MB/s thru the video card. But as soon as you start scrolling the screen, running Flash applications or anything with any animation to it (and we know WinXP is FULL of CPU-hogging animations) the memory bandwidth loss skyrockets.


    This doesn't seem to make much sense. In an age of GBe and 10GBe ethernet, wi-max, storage of files across corporate networks over the Internet, why is RAID in a laptop useful?

    Personally, I'd like to see more money put into developing SOLID STATE hard drives that use less power, produce less heat, and have no moving parts- such as a flash drive, only bigger

    -M
    • First, this feature is probably targeted at "Desktop Replacement Users" whose users care less about weight and battery life and more about their penis length^H^H computer features and hard drive space. The other group is the paranoid about data security, who want a constant backup hard drive to keep their laptop going even if a drive fails.

      One note about battery life, I think the power consumed by a drive (assuming constant mass distribution) is proportional to rpm^{3/2} which means that a 7200 RPM drive

    • Well than work on it if you are an engineer or invest in a company that does if you are not.

      Ptshah!

    • Personally, I'd like to see more money put into developing SOLID STATE hard drives that use less power, produce less heat, and have no moving parts- such as a flash drive, only bigger

      If you are willing to pay $50 per gigabyte of solid state mass storage, go right on ahead. I'll continue to pay 1% of that per gigabyte of mechanical storage until a truly competitive alternative emerges.

      Keep in mind that the costs of fabbing 1GB of flash memory is going to be on the same order of magnitude as the cost of fabb
  • We are talking about putting 2 or more HDDs in a machine, right? For a business user, it is going to be bad because of the increased weight, heat, power consumption, noise, et cetera.

    For the gamer (or other individual who would set them to striping instead of mirroring), if one drive has a 20% chance of failing after three years, then two have a 36% chance of failing. It would almost double the likelihood of a castrophic loss!

    Plus, I haven't seen a laptop in years that has quick-swappable drives, which

  • typical intel (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AceJohnny (253840)
    Intel has a goal of centralizing functions in their CPUs.
    MMX and SSE came in to boost the CPU's multimedia performance, so that people would be less tempted to take an extra, non-intel, chip to do that (for which they failed...).
    The Centrino was an all-in-one Intel bundle so that you wouldn't buy somewhere else to get Wifi on your laptop.
    Now it's RAID. I'm surprised, though, that they'd consider RAID a big enough market to include it in their chip. Or is it rapidly expanding with home-users?
    • Praytell how RAID in the CPU could boost gaming performance?

      Ok, sure, RAID can help the loading times in the game, but they aren't so prevalent compared to the actual gaming time.

      Has "gaming performance" become such a catch-phrase?

      Or are people so jumpy now that they can't stand the load time at the beginning of the level?

      • Praytell how RAID in the CPU could boost gaming performance?

        Ok, sure, RAID can help the loading times in the game, but they aren't so prevalent compared to the actual gaming time.

        Has "gaming performance" become such a catch-phrase?

        Or are people so jumpy now that they can't stand the load time at the beginning of the level?

        (obviously, I'm a bit jumpy on the submit button...)

        Furthermore, what does RAID and gaming have to do with laptops?

        What is a laptop supposed to be used for? Computing on the move. Importa

  • dismal ?

    a T42 that normally yields 4.5hrs of productivity will now be more like 3hrs...

    good if u're using it as a desktop replacement

    for road warriors, might be a bit heavy....
  • I don't understand it. People buy laptops with desktop graphics cards, hard drives, and sometimes even desktop processors! Then they complain when they get horrible battery life, 15 pound machines, and third degree burns on their laps. Give me a light laptop with 5 hour battery life and I'll take it any day over the latest 3.0GHz "desktop replacement". My PowerBook 12" weighs next to nothing and gets literally 5 hours+ of battery life, even after several years with the same battery. Bah and humbug is what I
  • Windows Laptops have a need to be protected from coffee spills, viruses, and general disk errors.

    RAID isn't a backup, its a performance tool. It makes a system more resilliant to _a_single_rare_ failure but NOT the majority of data failures. Having a redudant drive just sucks battery life.

    RAID is great on a server where the disks are being used a _lot_ where high redudancy is needed becuase downtime is expensive but there still needs to be an offsite backup solution.

    If someone is worried (as they should b
  • I see that response a lot. "It would take more power! We need to improve battery technology before we move on this..."

    I don't know about anyone else, but it is a rare moment indeed that I would use a laptop on battery power for any serious work. Browsing the internet at a coffee shop or something... sure. But serious work requiring concentration? I'm reaching for the power adapter and looking for an outlet.

    I think a laptop mirror RAID is a nice idea. When in battery mode, only the main drive stays act
  • You could say the same thing about all kinds of niche features on today's laptops:

    Who needs firewire? I mean, really, if you're going to edit video, why would you do it on a laptop with its miserably small, dim screen, slow internal drives, and short battery life?

    Who needs a TV tuner? Why fork over $2,000 for a laptop that can't show a decent picture with a DirecTV tuner or a satellite box, and even then you're looking at a tiny screen? You can get a bigger and better TV for $150 from Wal-Mart.

    The answer
  • The laptop market right now is all about making things as small as possible. A RAID setup would require a system that is much larger than current offerings to work. IMO, this is more about the server market. Small, low power consumption servers, maybe even fitting two mobos in a single 1u chassis. Such a market obviously exists, but up until very recently, there hasn't been a chipset that could realistically do the job of a server. This is what this product is really about, not the laptop market.
  • I always figured that RAIDs would become SAN storage servers, because their redundancy sucks power and weighs a lot. While notebooks would carry only a smallish cache for current data, frequently autosync'ed with a RAID over a network. It looks like that strategy is finally being pursued, only by mobile phones which sync to desktops in multiple locations. Is that just more proof that the real development action is in the mobile "phone" sector?
  • Note that this isn't true hardware raid, but actually what's called fake raid [linuxmafia.com] based on the ICH6-R [linuxmafia.com] chipset. Think of fakeraid like a winmodem but for RAID. Most of the work is done in software, and in practice, linux's software raid is usually faster than fakeraid anyways. Also note that fakeraid doesn't possess the battery-backed write caches that true hardware raid cards have, so you don't get any reliability improvements either.

    The only real good (for linux users at least) that comes from this announce
  • with RAID! get your very own fusion reactor-powered laptop that weighs in at a measly 25,000 metric tons, suitable for hiking adventures in the south polar region, due to its unique power/heat output ratios.

    Never be cold again!

    Only $400 trillion USD!
  • Offsite Backups (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stuffduff (681819) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @02:03PM (#13399383) Journal
    I'd rather have a wifi link and have my scsi hosted in a nice safe place. Make it 'mirror' over a wifi.
    • Re:Offsite Backups (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cheeze (12756)
      oh man that would be slow. Think of an office of 50 people all mirroring over 802.11b or g. That would be horrible.
      • Why should it be slow? How much data is actually getting changed? If you were creating a movie and actually doing the rendering more data would be going through your pc than would be going out to the mirror-network.
  • I dont get why RAID isnt itself integrated into the disk. Instead of just a disk, vendors could sell a metadisk, into which you plug in other disks and the metadisk itself has an IDE or SATA plug, so ordiniary computers could just see it as a disk. Even better, seperate the chips on the disk from the platter structure, so you'd have a standard looking disk, only with two sealed containers instead of one. Should the platters in one 'container' go bad, replace it. The other half will just keep running.
  • I miss laptops. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Humorously_Inept (777630) on Thursday August 25, 2005 @02:13PM (#13399471) Homepage
    Seems like desktops are becoming smaller, quieter and more efficient while notebooks are becoming larger, noisier and hungrier. Whatever happened to portability?
  • I for one am looking to *lighten* my laptop, not throw more hard drives and a bigger battery on it. I could see this working for larger laptops that are aimed at replacing desktop units but for a true laptop I think this would really drain the battery down too much and require a big bulky case to add more than one HD.

    I do like the idea, I just don't think it's practical unless we get much smaller and lighter hard drives and longer lasting batteries. Heck, I think this IBM A31 laptop I have is too heavy.
  • by Wakko Warner (324) * on Thursday August 25, 2005 @03:21PM (#13400260) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, I'm curious. I consider myself a technically proficient person, and I use RAID myself both at work and at home, but I fail to see how a mirrored disk will make Doom 3 run faster.

    - A.P.

Real computer scientists don't comment their code. The identifiers are so long they can't afford the disk space.

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