Steam Box Prototypes Will Reach Developers Within The Next Four Months

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2013 - 05:26 AM |
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?

Source: BBC

CES 2013: Valve Announces Steam Box Not Announced in '13

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 02:44 PM |
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.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Engadget

CES 2013: The Verge Interviews Gave Newell for Steam Box. Valve's Director Hints Post-Kepler GPUs Can Be Virtualized!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 11:11 PM |
Tagged: valve, gaben, Gabe Newell, ces 2013, CES

So the internet has been in a roar about The Steam Box and it probably will eclipse Project Shield as topic of CES 2013. The Verge scored an interview to converse about the hardware future of the company and got more than he asked for.

Gaben.jpg

Now if only he would have discussed potential launch titles.

Wow! That *is* a beautiful knife collection.

The point which stuck with me most throughout the entire interview was directed at Valve’s opinion of gaming on connected screens. Gabe Newell responded,

The Steam Box will also be a server. Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simulateneous [sic] game calls. So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We’re used to having one monitor, or two monitors -- now we’re saying lets expand that a little bit.

This is pretty much confirmation, assuming no transcription errors on the part of The Verge, that Maxwell will support the virtualization features of GK110 and bring it mainstream. This also makes NVIDIA Grid make much more sense in the long term. Perhaps NVIDIA will provide some flavor of a Grid server for households directly?

The concept gets me particularly excited. One of the biggest wastes of money the tech industry has is purchasing redundant hardware. Consoles are a perfect example: not only is the system redundant to your other computational device which is usually at worst a $200 GPU away from a completely better experience, you pay for software to be reliant on that redundant platform which will eventually disappear along with said software. In fact, many have multiple redundant consoles because the list of software they desire is not localized to just one system so they need redundant redundancies. Oy!

A gaming server should help make the redundancy argument more obvious. If you need extra interfaces then you should only need to purchase the extra interfaces. Share the number crunching and only keep it up to date.

Also check out the rest of the interview over at The Verge. I decided just to cover a small point with potentially big ramifications.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: The Verge

CES 2013: Valve Talks Piston, Better Listen. Steam Box!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 02:06 PM |
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.

ValvePiston.jpg

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.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Engadget

Valve Opens Steam for Linux Beta to General Public

Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2012 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: valve, ubuntu, steam, opengl, linux, gaming

Gamers were given an early holiday present last Friday when Valve announced it would be opening up its Steam for Linux beta to everyone. For the past few months the company has been testing out a version of its Steam client software intended to run on Ubuntu 12.04 Linux. Valve initially performed internal testing, and then proceeded to invite users to a closed beta. And now (finally), it seems that the company is comfortable enough with the applications stability that it can release it to the general public. While it is still very much beta software, it is actively being developed and improved.

Along with the move to a public beta, Valve is transitioning to GitHub to track changes and bug reports. Further, an apt repository is in the works, which should make installing and updating the Steam beta client easier, especially on non-Ubuntu distros (like Ubuntu forks). From the documentation available on the Steam website, it seems that apt-get install gdebi-coreand gdebi steam.debis still the preferred command line installation proceedure, however. 

Steam For Linux Beta.jpg

Further, Valve has fixed several issues in the latest Steam for Linux client. (Users that were in the closed beta will need to update). The company has improved the back navigation arrow placement and added discount timers and other UI tweaks to Big Picture Mode, for example. Valve has also fixed a bug concerning high CPU usage when playing Team Fortress 2 and an issue with the Steam overlay crashing while playing Cubemen.

Right now, the game selection is very limited, but the client itself is fairly stable. The traditional and Big Picture Mode UI are identical to the Windows version that many gamers are familiar with, which is good. Installation on Ubuntu was really easy, but I had trouble getting it to work with the latest version of Linux Mint. In the end, I was not able to use the CLI method, but the GUI instructions that Valve provides ended up working. At the moment Valve is only officially supporting the beta on Ubuntu, but it is likely to be expanded to other Debian forks as well as used in Valve’s Steam Box console.

The full announcement can be found on the Steam Community site, and the repository files are located here. Another useful resource is the getting started thread on the Steam forums, where you can find help getting the client installed (especially useful if you are trying to install it on an alternative distro).

Have you used the Steam for Linux client yet? I’m excited to see more games and engines support the Linux OS, as that will be what will make or break it.

Source: Valve

Podcast #230 - EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini ITX board, Our Holiday Gift Guide, Steam Box and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2012 - 02:43 PM |
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!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Chris Barbere

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:29:11

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. We are going to try Planetside 2 after the podcast!
  2. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:03:30 EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini-ITX Motherboard
    2. 0:06:45 Cutting the Cord Series
      1. Part 3 - Windows 7 Install and Setup
      2. Part 4 - Media Center Configuration
    3. 0:09:00 Seasonic G Series 360 watt PSU
    4. 0:11:30 PC Perspective Holiday Gift Guide!
  3. 0:40:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  4. News items of interest:
    1. 0:41:30 Transporter Private Storage
    2. 0:47:00 Intel will support sockets into foreseeable future as well
    3. 0:51:00 Crysis 3 will have advanced PC options
    4. 0:53:30 Valve Confirms the Steam Box is coming
    5. 1:06:15 Low power Atom chips for servers
    6. 1:10:20 ASRock Board with pass through for Thunderbolt
    7. 1:13:00 Haswell 4000 series CPUs will be 84 watt
  5. Closing:
    1. 1:16:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Lenovo X230 + Slice Battery
      2. Jeremy: ASUS VS229H-P Same in the US and Canada, though we get free shipping
      3. Josh: Intel 335 SSD for Cheap
      4. Allyn: iStarUSA BPU-126-SA
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

Valve and Gabe Newell Confirm Steam Box for Living Room PC Gaming

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
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.

valve1.jpg

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.

valve4.jpg

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.

valve3.jpg

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. 

Source: Kotaku

Steam Officially Releases Big Picture Mode

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2012 - 03:29 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, living room gaming, controller support, big picture mode

Valve took the beta wraps off of Steam’s Big Picture Mode yesterday, ushering in a new 10-foot interface for PC gamers wanting to game on the TV from the couch.

While the feature was still in beta, I tried it out with both a mouse and keyboard and an Xbox 360 controller. You can find the full article along with screenshots of the various interface features on PC Perspective. Now that Big Picture Mode is officially out of beta, I took a look at it again. In general, it seems like Valve has mostly made under the hood performance and stability tweaks rather than UI changes in the interim. On the plus side, Big Picture Mode no longer crashes on me and you can purchase games from within the overlay rather than needing to drop out to the traditional steam interface to complete transactions. With that said, there are some odd delays on certain interface buttons that were not present in the beta (and that will hopefully be fixed soon).

Steam Big Picture Mode_All Games.jpg

All in all though, I do think that it is a neat interface for couch gaming or just relaxing at your desk with a controller and Dirt 3.

Big Picture Mode Celebration Sale.jpg

Interestingly, along with Big Picture Mode, Valve is running a new wave of sales on games that include controller support. If you missed some titles over the previous holiday sales, now is a good time to pick them up. L4D2 is $4.99 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive is only $7.49, for example. The full list of games is available in the Big Picture Mode store or on the steampowered website.

Have you tried Big Picture Mode yet?

Source: Steam

Limited Linux Steam Client Beta Begins With 26 Games and Big Picture Mode

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: valve, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, steam, linux, gaming

The developers at Valve have been hammering away at a Linux version of its popular Steam client and software distribution service.While Windows is currently the dominant platform, CEO Gabe Newell has shown his displeasure at with Windows 8 and the Windows Store such that development has been expedited to support the alternative operating systems and port Valve’s own titles to the platforms. Last month, Valve announced a limited public beta would start soon, and that it was taking applications.

That beta is now in effect, with a small subset of the total 60,000 applications the company received being invited to participate in the beta build. Intended for Ubuntu 12.04, the Linux for Steam beta includes the client itself, and several surprising additions (that were previously thought to not be included). Big Picture Mode and 26 games will be part of the Linux beta.

Steam running on Ubuntu.jpg

Big Picture Mode is Valve’s 10-foot interface for the Steam client. It is designed to work well with remote or controller such that Steam functionality and games can be easily accessed from the couch with Steam on the living room TV. (I took a look at Big Picture Mode earlier this year if you are curious about what the interface looks like.)

The list of games includes:

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • And yet it Moves
  • Aquaria
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales
  • Cogs
  • Cubemen
  • Darwina
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • eversion
  • Frozen Synapse
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Space Pirates and Zombies
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Trine 2
  • Uplink
  • Uplink/Darwinia Pack
  • Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign
  • Waveform
  • World of Goo
  • World of Goo Demo

Needless to say, there are a number of games more than the previously expected TF2, though Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are noticeably absent (as are the rest of the Valve/Source collection). Space Pirates and Zombies is sure to suck some productivity out of Linux users’ days, however!

Valve has stated that additional users will be added to the beta from the pool of applicants over time. The company is also looking at making the Linux client available to other Linux distributions as well (even HML?). If you want a chance at getting into the beta, Valve is still accepting new applications via this survey (you need to log in with your Steam credentials).

Have you tried out the Steam for Linux beta?

Source: Valve

List of Games for Linux Steam Client Leak

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2012 - 09:26 AM |
Tagged: valve, tux, steam, linux, gaming

A Steam client for Linux has been a long time in the making, but is definitely getting closer to release with an imminent public beta announced last month.

During the initial announcement, Valve hinted that at least one native Linux game would be available along with the new beta client. Many gamers have predicted that the game will be Valve's own zombie FPS Left 4 Dead 2. Now, thanks to a leaked list of games from Valve's CDR database, gamers can add a few more native Linux games to that list. Among the leaked native Linux games are:

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Crusader Kings 2
  • Cubemen
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • Eversion
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
  • Trine 2
  • Waveform
  • World of Goo 

Unfortunately, various id software titles with Linux ports appear to be absent as well as several popular Linux-only games such as Tuxracer, Super Tuxkart, and other games popular with a certain penguin. It will be interesting to see what newer games Steam is able to bring on board after the official launch as well. I expect to see games like FTL, for example. Further, I'm curious to see how well received Steam will be versus software like the Ubuntu Software Center!

You can find a full list of games currently on Steam (for Windows) that have native Windows binaries – and will likely make it onto the native Linux Steam client – on this wiki page.

Are you excited for Linux to (finally) get a Steam client?

Source: Bit-Tech