Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2013 - 12:06 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Xi3, valve, Steam Box, piston, pc gaming, gaming
It may or may not be Valve's Steam Box, but Xi3 is the closest thing to a small form factor PC gaming console running Steam on the radar so far. The Xi3 PISTON is now up for pre-order with an intended holiday 2013 launch.
The PISTON starts at $899 and increases in price from there depending on the amount of internal storage included. Basic specifications of the Piston include an AMD APU (likely the A10-4600M) clocked at 2.3GHz (3.2GHz turbo), Radeon 7660G processor graphics (384 shaders), 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 128GB solid state drive. For an extra $340, Xi3 will swap in a 256GB SSD, and for $750 the company will include a 512GB option. Of course, that would bring the price of the living room TV up to $1649, which is far from cheap.
For that kind of money you could build a much more powerful mid tower that could actually run Steam games at 1080p with all the details cranked up. The Xi3 box will be lucky to average 30FPS at 1080p with the latest games. With that said, it is a start and I hope to see continued development of these "Steam Box-esque PCs. Hopefully once mass production, competing options, and economies of scale kick in, consumers will be able to get their hands on cheaper Steam Boxes!
If you can't wait for the official Steam Box, however, you can head over to the Xi3 website to reserve your own PISTON.
Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2013 - 05:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, steam, pc gaming, gaming, console, big picture mode
In talking with the BBC, Valve CEO Gabe Newell revealed several details regarding the company’s upcoming Steam Box gaming PC. The console competitor will go up against Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 successor. So far we know that the Steam Box will utilize Valve’s Steam distribution service and its Big Picture Mode user interface. Valve will be manufacturing its own reference design, but third parties will also be allowed to construct Steam Boxes that will tap into Valve’s gaming library. Xi3 in particular looks to be at least one of the likely Steam Box partners to produce hardware.
Newell indicated that Valve would be sending prototype devices to customers within “the next three to four months.” The designs are not yet finalized, however, as evidenced by Newell’s statement that the prototypes would be used to gather feedback, and Valve is still working on balancing heat, noise, and performance.
“We're working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it.” - Gabe Newell in an interview with BBC before receiving an award for Portal 2.
Further, Valve has not yet determined exactly what it wants the controller to be. It will reportedly be shipping several different prototype controllers along with the Steam Box PCs. One area that Newell is particularly interesting in is in gathering bio-metric data -- such as heart rate -- and using that data to change the game experience for the gamer. This would be one area that Valve could focus on and have an advantage over other consoles. As a fully-fledged PC, the Steam Box could tap into existing bio-metrics technology and easily have the horsepower to effectively parse the bio-feedback. I can only think of a few situations in which such data would be useful (horror games, party/dancing/exercise games), but I do see it as being at least as beneficial as the Kinect was/is to the Xbox.
With that said, we still do not know much about the Steam Box. Much like the PS4, we still do not know what the actual hardware will look like (though we have at least been shown the PS4 controller). Pricing is also one of the major unknowns, and BBC reporter Leo Kelion quoted an industry analyst Lewis Ward (IDC) as noting that Valve will likely not be able to subsidize the hardware nearly as much as the other major console players (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) are able to. The Steam Box is inevitably going to be priced more in like with PCs than with consoles, as a result. On the other hand, gamers that buy a Steam Box can look forward to getting games that are much cheaper than the console equivalents. Give Steam Box gamers a couple of Steam holiday sales and they will easily make up the price difference!
What do you expect the Steam Box to be, and will it finally take PC gaming to the masses?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 02:44 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, valve, Steam Box
CES opened with excitement from Xi3 Corporation and their announcement of the Piston. When Gabe Newell spoke with Kotaku at the VGAs he said that we would see Big Picture PCs this year. With word that Xi3 received funding from Valve some of us, including myself, wondered if this Piston was Valve’s “Nexus” Steam Box.
Ben Krasnow, hardware engineer at Valve, comments in the video below about whether we have seen Valve’s canonical Steam Box or if there are any planned announcements for 2013.
Thank you Ben.
There seems to be some discrepancies between statements from Krasnow and Valve Managing Director, Gabe Newell. The major deviation concerns whether the official Steam Box will be based on Linux or another operating system. When interviewed by The Verge, Gabe Newell claimed the official box will be based on Linux with no unclear terms:
We’ll come out with our own and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves. That’ll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination.
Krasnow in an email discussion with Engadget was somewhat more timid in future plans. The Engadget article was published on the same day as the The Verge interview which makes neither position particularly out of date. His statement:
"The box might be linux-based, but it might not," he continued. "It's true that we are beta-testing Left for Dead 2 on Linux, and have also been public about Steam Big Picture Mode. We are also working on virtual and augmented reality hardware, and also have other hardware projects that have not been disclosed yet, but probably will be in 2013."
At the same point this might all become irrelevant very quickly. As reported yesterday, Gabe Newell in the very same interview seemed to strongly suggest that post-Kepler GPUs will bring virtualization to the consumer market. If that is the case, then the only barrier between Linux and Windows would be for a company to provide a user-friendly virtual machine. Having your host operating system as one or the other would not particularly matter if the user could run gaming applications from the other platform.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 02:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Xi3, valve, trinity, Steam Box, ces 2013, CES, amd
Going from a failed Kickstarter to Valve’s premier console? Sounds like a good anecdote to tell.
Valve has finally discussed the Steam Box in more concrete details. Get ready for some analysis; there are a bunch of hidden stories to be told. We will tell them.
Update for clarity: As discussed in IRC technically this was an Xi3 announcement that Valve will have at their booth but not an official Valve announcement. That said, Valve will have it at their booth and Valve funded Xi3.
Another Update for new information: Turns out this is not the Valve-official device. Ben Krasnow, Valve hardware engineer, made a statement that the official Steam Box is not planned to be announced in 2013. What we will see this year is 3rd Party implementations, and that should be it. News story to follow.
Image by Engadget
As everyone is reporting, Valve hired out Xi3 Corporation to develop the Steam Box under the codename Piston. Xi3Corporation was founded in 2010 and revealed their first product at CES two years ago. In late September, Xi3 launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter to fund their latest designs: The X7A and the X3A.
The X7A Modular Computer is the most interesting as it seems to be what the Piston is based on. Regardless of the Kickstarter’s failure, Valve still reached out to Xi3 Corporation chequebook in hand. According to the Kickstarter page, the X7A has the following features:
64-Bit Quad-Core x86 processor up to 3.2 GHz with 384 graphics shader cores.
- My personal best guess is the AMD A10-4600M Trinity APU.
- 8GB of DDR3 RAM
- 1 TB of “Superfast” Solid State Memory
- Four USB 3.0
- Four USB 2.0
- Four eSATAp
- Gigabit E
- 40Watt under load
“Under $1000” although that includes 1TB of SSD storage.
- Also Valve could take a loss, because Steam has no problem with attach rate.
The key piece of information is the 40Watt declaration. According to Engadget who went hands-on with the Valve Piston, it too is rated for 40Watt under load. This means that it is quite likely for the core specifications of the Kickstarter to be very similar to the specifications of the Piston.
Benchmarks for the 7660G have the device running Far Cry 3 on low settings at around 34 FPS as well as Black Ops 2 running on Medium at 42 FPS. That said, with a specific hardware platform to target developers will be able to better optimize.
During the SpikeTV VGAs, Gabe Newell stated in an interview with Kotaku that third parties would also make “Steam Boxes”. They are expected to be available at some point in 2013.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2012 - 02:43 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z77, valve, stinger, Steam Box, steam, podcast, pcper, itx, i7-4770k, haswell, gift guide, evga, Crysis 3, 4770k, video
PC Perspective Podcast #230 - 12/13/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini ITX board, Our Holiday Gift Guide, Steam Box and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Chris Barbere
Program length: 1:29:11
Podcast topics of discussion:
- We are going to try Planetside 2 after the podcast!
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- 0:40:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:41:30 Transporter Private Storage
- 0:47:00 Intel will support sockets into foreseeable future as well
- 0:51:00 Crysis 3 will have advanced PC options
- 0:53:30 Valve Confirms the Steam Box is coming
- 1:06:15 Low power Atom chips for servers
- 1:10:20 ASRock Board with pass through for Thunderbolt
- 1:13:00 Haswell 4000 series CPUs will be 84 watt
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Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: valve, steambox, Steam Box, steam, htpc, gaben, Gabe Newell, big picture mode
Well it finally happened this week - Gabe Newell confirmed what we all assumed was going to happen - a Valve software branded and controlled PC for gaming and computing in the living room. We first started grumbling about the "Steam Box" back in March at GDC when Valve announced the Big Picture Mode for Steam and rumors of the hardware platform first began. The next moth, Valve's Doug Lombardi denied the rumors but fell short of saying it wouldn't happen in the future. In September the Big Picture Mode for Steam went into beta bringing the Steam interface into the world of TVs and 10-ft design, followed this year with the full release.
And let's not forget the Linux client beta currently on-going as well as the capability to buy non-gaming software on Steam. Valve has been a busy PC company.
Big Picture Mode was the first necessary step
Based on an interview with Gabe at Kotaku, there are a surprising amount of details about the hardware goals that Valve will set for the "Steam Box" in addition to the simple confirmation that it is a currently running project.
He also expects companies to start selling PC packages for living rooms next year—setups that could consist of computers designed to be hooked up to your TV and run Steam right out of the gate.
HTPC builders have been making "Steam Box" computers for some time...
Interestingly, Valve is saying its contribution will be more tightly controlled than we might have thought:
"Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment," he said. "If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that's what some people are really gonna want for their living room.
No time tables were discussed and we are left once again with just a hint of what is to come. I think its pretty obvious based on the direction Valve is going that we are going to see a Linux-based small form factor PC with Steam pre-installed available for consumers in 2013. If Valve starts pushing Linux support as hard as we expect it could mean quite a bit of trauma is ahead for Microsoft in the enthusiast community, one that is already reeling from the problems with Windows 8.
If you were to potentially add to the "Steam Box" a pre-configuration tool like NVIDIA's GeForce Experience that sets game options based on your hardware for you, the PC could easily turn into a solution that is nearly as simple as the console for gamers. And because Steam is already accepting non-games, it won't take much for there to be Netflix and Amazon apps in addition to anything else you currently have running on HTPCs or tablets.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 13, 2012 - 01:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Steam Box
Doug Lombardi of Valve denied rumors of the Steam Box console last month, but fell short of denying future possibilities and so forth. Recently, Valve has posted a job opening on their website for an electronics engineer.
When Valve’s Doug Lombardi responded to rumors of a “Steam Box” console, he used the following words which were posted all over the internet as Valve denies Steam Box console rumors:
We're prepping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI and getting ready to ship that, so we're building boxes to test that on. We're also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we've talked about a fair amount, […] All of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware.
As it turns out Valve has just recently posted a job position for a Hardware Engineer with the following duties:
Work with the hardware team to conceive, design, evaluate, and produce new types of input, output, and platform hardware
Join our highly motivated team that’s doing hardware design, prototyping, testing, and production across a wide range of platforms. We’re not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here – help us invent whole new gaming experiences.
While that hardware engineer position could be any number of things including peripheral development, it is clear that Valve wants to get into hardware more than they let on. This looks to be more than just development hardware.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 6, 2012 - 03:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, GDC, GDC 12
Valve and Razer formally agree to support Razer Hydra motion controller in Valve’s four most popular titles and two upcoming ones.
A little over two years ago, Valve and Razer announced a partnership for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. During CES 2010, attendees were able to experiment with a prototype motion controller from Sixense to control Left 4 Dead 2. Sixense TrueMotion controllers were later released by Razer last June as the Razer Hydra.
Now you're thinking with controllers.
This Game Developers Conference (GDC) fast forwards us to almost a year after the launch of the Razer Hydra. The price for the controller has dropped $40 to $99.99 at some point between then and now. Valve has also announced that support would be extended from Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 to include Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2 and upcoming Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The fishiest part of this whole announcement involves the Steam Box rumor from a few days ago. Valve appears to be very focused on the best portions of console gaming for the PC all of a sudden. I could easily see motion controls be used to support The Steam Box or whatever it might be called -- especially if it were used for more than just gaming and by more than just gamers.
So what do you all think?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | March 3, 2012 - 05:16 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, steam, GDC 12
It is rumored that Valve will announce a Steam hardware platform as early as GDC next week although that could be pushed back as late as E3 in June.
Steam has grown atop the PC platform and consists of over 40 million active user accounts. For perspective, the Xbox 360 has sold 65.8 million units to date and that includes units sold to users whose older Xbox 360s died and they did not go the cardboard coffin route. Of course the study does not account for the level of hardware performance each user can utilize although Valve does keep regular surveys of that.
A console with admined dedicated servers to kick the teabagging and griefing Steam punks.
Within the last couple of years, Valve has been popping in to news seemingly out of the blue. Allow me to draw your attention to three main events.
At the last GDC, Valve announced “The Big Picture” mode for their Steam software. The Big Picture is an interface for Steam which is friendly to users seated on a couch several feet away from a large screen TV. While “The Big Picture” has yet to be released it does set the stage for a great Home Theatre PC user interface for PC games as well as potentially other media.
I must admit, that controller does not look the most ergonomic... but it is just a patent filing.
Last year, Valve also filed a patent with the US Patent Office for a video game controller with user swappable control components. Their patent filings show a controller which looks quite similar to an Xbox 360 controller where the thumbsticks can be replaced with touch pads as well as a trackball and potentially other devices. Return of Missile Command anyone?
Also a little over two years ago, Valve announced a partnership with Razer for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. It is possible that Valve was supporting this technology for this future all along. While motion controllers have not proven to be successful for gaming, they are accepted as a method to control a device. Perhaps The Big Picture will be optimized to support Sixense and compatible devices?
The Verge goes beyond their claims that Valve will announce The Steam Box and has included specifications for a closed-doors prototype of the system. The system was rumored to be used to present to partners at CES contained an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU.
You know if Microsoft had focused on Media Center for gaming rather than the Xbox...
It is very unclear whether Valve will attempt to take a loss on the platform in hopes to make it back up in Steam commissions. It is possible that Valve will just push the platform to OEM partners, but it is possible that they will release and market their own canon device.
I am interested to see how Valve will push the Home Theatre PC market. The main disadvantage that the PC platform has at the moment is simply marketing and development money. It is also possible that they wish to expand out and support other media through their Steam service as well.
At the very least, we should have a viable Home Theatre PC user interface as well as sharp lines between hardware profiles. A developer on the PC would love to know the exact number of potential users they should expect if they were to support a certain hardware configuration. Valve was always keen on supplying hardware profile statistics, and this is certainly a harsh evolution of that.