Valve and Xi3's 'Steam Box' codenamed Piston, early specs detailed at CES
The "Steam Box" modular computer announced by hardware maker Xi3 and Valve at CES is codenamed "Piston" and is modeled after the PC maker's X7A line of pint-sized computers, Xi3 reps tell Polygon.
Xi3 brought an early version of Piston to CES, but was tight lipped on details about the hardware currently in development with Valve. Xi3 chief marketing officer David Politis told Polygon that Piston will offer up to 1 TB of interal storage and offer modular component updates, including the option to upgrade the PC's CPU and RAM.
Xi3 wouldn't discuss price for Piston, but commented that the Steam Box is based on its "performance level" X7A offering, which is priced at $999. Xi3 declined to comment on what would differentiate Piston hardware-wise from a standard X7A.
Xi3 also offers the entry level X5A, which is priced at $499 with a Linux operating system.
The demo unit of Piston featured an IO board boasting one ethernet port, 1/8" audio in/out, SPDIF optical audio, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports (with one dedicated to keyboard input), four eSATAp ports, two Mini Display Port ports and one DisplayPort/HDMI port.
Yea, I guess this is just one of apparently several prototypes.
Newell is at CES in Las Vegas this week to meet with different companies about its hardware plans, and has come with a number of prototypes in tow.
“We think that there are pluses and minuses to open systems that could make things a little messier, it’s much more like herding cats, so we try to take the pieces where we’re going to add the best value and then encourage other people to do it,” said Newell. “So it tends to mean that a lot of people get involved. We’re not imposing a lot of restrictions on people on how they’re getting involved.”
This explains the Xi3 announcement. Xi3 will not be the last piece of hardware to have Steam support, but it’s also not the mythical Steam Box that we’ve been expecting Valve to produce itself.
That box does exist.
“We’ll come out with our own and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves,” he said. “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. We also think that a controller that has higher precision and lower latency is another interesting thing to have.”
The company is also experimenting with low-latency controller solutions, and some designs include a touch screen. It’s possible a controller could incorporate biometric data, as well. Valve's not sure if motion control has much more to it, either. All of Newell’s answers suggest there is significant experimentation happening at Valve, and it hasn’t nailed down specifics. How many companies can be this specific and vague at the same time and get away with it?