Did everyone survive April Fools’ Day? No one shared any prank posts by accident? No one believed even the stuff that was tempting, eg that George Takei is running for office? Okay, great. Let’s recap the week (sans any pranks):
There’s been a lot of AMD Ryzen and Intel Optane news in recent weeks, and this week gave us more of both.
When we first reviewed Ryzen, we found some issues, but AMD promised that upcoming game optimizations would solve them. (Paul Alcorn explained and showed this all in detail recently.) The first (of the purported many) game optimizations arrived in the form of Ashes Of The Singularity: Escalation, which we tested. The results? Interesting.
As for Intel Optane (3D Xpoint), Intel and Micron have positioned it as a future replacement for both storage and memory, and they’ve promised the moon but have so far delivered…not that. There is now a Real Thing that uses 3D Xpoint for storage (the enterprise-focused Intel NVMe DC P4800X), and this week we learned that Intel is bringing Optane to the consumer desktop (gasp!) in the form of 16GB and 32GB memory that the PC reads as addressable storage (double gasp!). But as Chris Ramseyer pointed out, this all seems a little familiar. Is this Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) all over again?
This week, the gut punches to consumer privacy continued, as the House voted to kill the yet-to-implemented FCC privacy framework. The framework would:
- Require internet service providers (ISPs) to ask for permission before collecting sensitive information such as content of communications, precise geo-location, financial information, and more
- Allow users to opt-out of giving ISPs non-sensitive information such as email addresses
- Only allow ISPs to collect basic service information without which the service couldn’t be provided without any kind of consent from their customers
- Notify customers within 30 days that their data has been stolen in a data breach
Last week the Senate voted along party lines to reject the above, and this week the House followed suit. Without those protections, many consumers are now fearful about their internet habits being tracked and sold. Immediately following the House vote, Verizon seemingly gleefully dove back into the tracking business by announcing Carrier User Tracking on all of its on-contract Android devices. To assuage your worries (or at least lessen them somewhat), Lucian Armasu wrote some tips for how you can browse privately.
The big news in VR land this week was that Oculus co-founder and Vr wunderkind Palmer Luckey is leaving the company he helped start. By the time you read this, he will be gone, actually. You (our readers) have engaged in some interesting discussions about the “why” of his departure, ranging from punishment for his Nimble America affiliation to the inevitable machinations of the acquisition process–remember, Facebook owns Oculus, so the latter is not exactly a cheeky upstart at this point, and Luckey is kind of a cheeky upstart sort of fellow–but in any case, Luckey is out, and Oculus moves on.
In the keyboard world, we’ve been intrigued by the proliferation of mechanical switches that have shallower travel than ever before, and it seems that Kaihua (maker of Kailh switches) is diving in with both feet. Whereas the likes of Cherry and Razer each now have a “speed” switch, Kailh outed four–eight in total if you count its water- and dust-proof “BOX” switches. As the great Bowie sang: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…
For gamers, this past week was mostly great. Destiny 2? Coming! Total War: Warhammer II? Coming! StarCraft: Remastered? Coming! Quake Champions beta? Coming!
Also, Square Enix removed the time limit on the FF XIV free trial time limit, the Civ VI spring update went live, you can play Titanfall 2 for another free weekend (bonus: Colony Reborn DLC) and Nintendo pushed out a patch for Zelda: Breath of the Wildto fix some frame rate issues.
Whew! Good stuff. Mostly. Some of the other bits weren’t so hot, but hey, the good balanced out the bad.
Getting Real, Virtually
For us on the Tom’s Hardware news team, one of the more entertaining bits from the week was Kevin Carbotte’s reaction to Narcosis on the Oculus Rift. To boil it down, it went something like this: NOPENOPENOPENOPENOPE [frantically tears off headset.]In other words, it’s a terrifying game. If that’s your thing, give Narcosis a whirl. (Personally, I will respectfully be abstaining, thanks very much.)
HTC had a slew of announcements this week, most notably that it released the full body tracking code and that the Vive Trackers are now available to devs. Apparently, the demand was certainly there, because they sold out in the U.S. relatively quickly.
Also, get ready for an all-new Samsung Gear VR (and a controller!) on April 11.
Pre-built systems are an interesting breed of PC, and their makers are always poking and prodding for new way to differentiate their lappies and desktops from the competition. Limited edition models with a new GPU? Sure. Claiming a “world’s first” THX laptop certification? Why not. Unlocked BIOS for overclocking? Yes please. And of course, slapping that “VR-ready” label on anything is presently the most popular way to sexy up even a workstation PC.
And All The Rest
As always, there was plenty of other hot stuff from the week. One of the more prominent stories was that Mad Catz is done; the company filed for bankruptcy. Operations are swiftly coming to a halt, and the company’s remaining subsidiaries and assets, it seems, will be cast to the four winds.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creators Update is nigh–it will roll out on April 11–and with that update, expect things around Windows Mixed Reality (formerly known as “Windows Holographic”) to being growing. Details at (April) 11.
Have a great one, dear readers