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The operation: X[16] & (N-1) is really, mathematically speaking: $$ X[16] \mathrm{\ mod\ } N $$ With a generic $N$, this operation must be done with an actual division, which is expensive; some CPU types don't provide it, and for CPU which do provide it (e.g. x86), it is quite slow (for instance, for 32-bit operands on an Intel Core2, division latency ...



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