Weekly Hype Train! – 1/8/2019 Edition

This is a new thing I’m going to try, cataloging all the things coming up in a given week that I’m looking forward to. While it will be mostly gaming related (and WoW-related too!) it will cross over to multiple interests(especially this week).

So sit tight for some optimism!

AMD Ryzen 3000-series announcement at CES

The rumors have been swirling for a month or two on this one. AMD has been resurgent in desktop CPUs lately, launching the Ryzen series in 2017 to rave reviews and rapidly closing their performance gap with Intel, who has dominated the CPU market in nearly every segment since 2006’s Core 2 Duo based on their Conroe architecture. AMD struggled to gain ground against those designs, and while they were competitive for a few years after, once they launched the last AMD FX lineup and they failed to make a dent against Intel’s Sandy Bridge lineup (the infamous Core i7 2600k), they faded pretty harshly.

This last year, however, AMD has been steadily gaining ground. The Ryzen 2000 series CPUs made some great improvements, to the point that both systems I’ve built in the last year have them (mine is a Ryzen 7 2700x and my girlfriend’s PC has the Ryzen 3 2200g). While these CPUs are fantastic, they still lag behind Intel in single-threaded performance, with slightly lower instructions per clock (IPC) performance and lower clockspeeds.

The rumors, for those that haven’t heard, have them closing both gaps, however. The lineup is speculated to start with 6-core, 12-threaded CPUs in the high 3 GHz to low 4 GHz range for $99, and then proceed all the way up to 16-core, 32-thread consumer level parts with boost clockspeeds of 5 GHz for around $500! There are also rumors of increased IPC to the tune of 8-14%, which would mean that these new parts beat everything Intel has on the market until the end of the year, if not even further past that. Particularly interesting to me is the Ryzen 7 3700X, the direct generational replacement for my CPU. Rumors on this part indicate it would be 12-core, 24-thread (a 50% core/thread count gain) with a base speed of 4.6-4.7 GHz and a boost speed of 5.1 GHz, for around $330! Better yet, as a part of AMD’s platform strategy, I’d be able to drop that same CPU right into my current motherboard – no other upgrades required.

While I try to remain platform agnostic (the first PC I owned had an Athlon XP 2500+, while most systems I’ve built since then have been Intel-based), the competition in this market has made it better, as Intel has suddenly increased consumer-level core counts in back-to-back years, and having viable options at all price points from multiple contenders makes buying a PC far more interesting. There is always going to be that part of me that wants AMD to do well, since they were the gold standard when I first got into enthusiast PC hardware, and seeing them come back has been very nostalgic and exciting. If their new designs mean I can buy a new CPU this spring that will far exceed a CPU I only bought in July 2018, that is great news (and even better, I can pass the 2700X right into my girlfriend’s rig as an upgrade for her, so everyone wins!).

All Elite Wrestling Press Conference

This one is also pretty exciting. All Elite Wrestling (AEW for short) is a new wrestling company founded by some strong wrestling talents with the financial backing of the Khan family, mostly known in the US as the owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team. Starting with The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes’ independent wrestling mega-event, All In, back in September 2018, the group has been teasing a major announcement on their YouTube show, Being the Elite, pretty much ever since, as fans came to learn that their contracts with solid US number 2 company Ring of Honor were expiring at the end of 2018 and they would not be renewing, which also applied to their working agreements with worldwide number 2 wrestling organization New Japan Pro Wrestling. On January 1st, the AEW organization was announced formally, with the episode of Being the Elite that week centering on the countdown timers the cast had in prior episodes ending and revealing the graphics of the organization and their (technically) first event, Double or Nothing (very heavy Vegas theme going there). Today, as I’m writing this, they’ll be having a press conference to announce details about this event and the organization as a whole. Speculation seems pretty safe that they’ll be announcing Las Vegas as the host for the heavily gambling-themed show (which I am excited for because I can go since it would be so close) and the promotion as a whole. So many trademarks have been seen which speak to possible weekly shows and more big events past Double or Nothing, but a lot of trickier details are still unannounced (they don’t appear to have a TV deal, some of their friends like Kenny Omega are not signed, and their actual signed roster is only about 8 wrestlers deep at the moment). The press conference will hopefully begin to address these points and more as the promotion moves forward.

Despite some skepticism on many peoples minds (including my own), I think this crew could pull off a consistently entertaining show. All In was one of the best wrestling shows I’ve ever seen, well worth the purchase price to watch live, but it was also the best possible result due to collaboration with ROH, NJPW, and Impact Wrestling, all helping to provide talent, production expertise and contacts, and promotion. Without those organizations involved, it could end up being worse off for it. Having said that, however, they have a substantial amount of money behind them with the Khan family investing heavily, they have the top-level talent most involved with planning and executing All In, and they have a myriad of friends that could come in as viable talent to make it work – so I’m still optimistic that it will end up being a good promotion and well worth watching.

WoW Story and Lore Developer Livestream

This one came a bit out of nowhere, but is going to be good, I think. On January 10th, a few members of the story and lore team on WoW are going to be having a livestream, headed by Terran Gregory. While there are varying opinions of the current lore, I have to imagine that this stream is going to be interesting, contentious, and entertaining. What stands out to me is that the timing of this feels about right for a patch announcement, but at the same time, we have not yet entered the Battle for Dazar’Alor, so we are largely still in the 8.0 lore window and that would likely prohibit any major announcements. It would also likely limit the things that could be discussed – I highly doubt that an official Blizzard stream is going to spoil the raid ending, even with those details fairly widely known thanks to the magic of datamining.

Still, though, I find myself anticipating what they’ll have to say. While BfA Blizzard has found ways to have livestream events with little to say, I am hopeful that this event is scheduled for a reason, and will offer some sort of interesting reveal. Given Terran Gregory is hosting, I would imagine a machinima cinematic unveiling is a high-probability event!

General CES News

CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, is always a fun part of the year for tech nerds. While the PC news is what I find most exciting, it also tends to showcase a lot of weird new stuff, from TV’s that can be folded to all kinds of other goodies. While the AMD news is what I am most hyped for, the event has already yielded a new graphics card from Nvidia in the Geforce RTX 2060, Intel and AMD announcements about new laptop and mobile CPUs, and a few fun product showcases, like an Asus Geforce RTX 2080Ti card with built-in watercooling that does not require a separately-mounted radiator, instead building the radiator into the shroud attached to the card, making it look very similar to a standard air-cooled card and allowing it to be mounted in more cases and with greater ease.

So while I don’t have any particular thing to look forward to here, the whole event in general usually brings a lot of interesting technology to the forefront, and even if I’ll never own most of it, it is fun to watch.

Gaming

In WoW, my guild might resume raiding with Uldir after our holiday break – although most of us have been playing other games and I think we’ll end up extending the break until the 22nd when DA launches. I started the Ninja Theory-developed Devil May Cry last night, which has been fun so far! I’ve really been digging into Cities Skylines, buying some of the DLC expansions for it and watching the excellent stream recaps of Irish streamer RT Game, who has some hilarious sim game videos, including making a poop volcano in Cities Skylines (volcano might be a strong word, but it is worth a watch). After finishing the story of Yakuza 0 a week ago, I am debating returning to the game to do side-stories or even a new game plus, as the main story only makes up around 20-25% of the available content. I’ve also been playing futuristic racer Redout, which reminds me in a very good way of Wipeout on Playstation, which is one of my favorite racing franchises ever.

Overall, I’m having a great time gaming right now and by month’s end, it will only be better with more reasons to log into WoW alongside the other stuff I’m enjoying!

With that, this inaugural hype train has left the station!

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