Skip to comments.Valve Software: Xi3 Piston Is Just One Game System, More Incoming.
Posted on 01/11/2013 12:44:25 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Valve Software, a major video game developer and the owner of Steam game distribution service, said that Xi3 Corp.s Piston video game system, which is currently in development, will be only one of such Steam Box devices. More Steam-centered game systems are incoming from other makers; moreover, Valve will offer its own-brand gaming devices going forward.
We will come out with our own and we will sell it to consumers by ourselves. That will be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can. We are 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, said Gabe Newell, a co-founder and chief executive officer of Valve, in an interview with The Verge web-site.
On Tuesday Xi3 Corp. announced a development stage system optimized for computer gameplay on large high-definition television monitors. Xi3's Piston is designed specifically to support both Steam and its Big Picture mode for residential and LAN party computer gaming on larger high-def screens. While the details about Xi3 Piston are scarce, it is widely believed that the device is a small form-factor fully-fledged personal computer powered by AMDs A-series Fusion Trinity or Richland accelerated processing unit and can be equipped with up to 1TB hard disk drive. Since the unit is a pre-production one, eventually it may gain A-series Kaveri APU with more advanced AMD Radeon HD 7000-series graphics core and up to four AMD Steamroller x86 cores.
Valve did not disclose any details about its own Steam Box game device.
While Valve has made an investment into Xi3 and the two companies are jointly showcasing Piston at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, Valve stresses that Xi3 Piston will not be the only Steam Box available on the market. At least three types of Steam-centered gaming devices will be available: some will just stream video games from PCs (e.g., Nvidia Shield) or even servers, other will be tightly-controlled by Valve and will render games locally, the third breed will offer something more than just Steam games.
The way we sort of think of it is sort of Good, Better, or Best. Good are like these very low-cost streaming solutions that you are going to see that are using Miracast or Grid. [ ] Better [will] have a dedicated CPU and GPU and that is the one that is going to be controlled. [ ] It has been surprisingly difficult when we say to people dont put an optical media drive in there and they put an optical media drive in there and you are like that makes it hotter, that makes it more expensive, and it makes the box bigger. Go ahead. You can always sell the Best box, and those are just whatever those guys want to manufacture, explained Mr. Newell.
Even though good, better, best approach has its advantages, it is obvious that Valves and its hardware partners interests are pretty different. Valve is interested in a stable platform, which will likely be similar to Xi3s Piston and will be tightly controlled (to what extent?) by the platform designer. Essentially, the firmly-controlled design will quickly become a commodity and there will be few opportunities for hardware makers to differentiate. As a result, many of Valves partners will focus on best-type Steam Boxes, which will quickly evolve into small form-factor video game PCs.
While initially Valve Software plans to address personal computer gaming with its Steam Boxes running Linux or Windows operating systems, the company is also working on mobile gaming devices.
This [Steam Box] is called Bigfoot internally, and we also have Littlefoot. [
] Our approach [to Littlefoot] will be pretty similar. We also think there is a lot that needs to be done in the tablet and mobile space to improve input for games. I understand Apple's [approach]; all the way back in '83 when I met Jobs for the first time, he was so super anti-gaming. In one of the designs that we are building on the controller side, it has this touchpad and we are trying to figure out where that is useful. We do not want to waste peoples money by just throwing in a touchpad. Once we understand what the role is of multi-touch in these kind of applications then it is easy to say you can use your phone for it, said the head of Valve.
Large Image so you can see the detail.
From the stories I get, if I could take a poll on the reasons freshmen and sophomores fail out of engineering classes, heavy gaming on Steam etc is probably 100% correlated.
Well a person has to have their priorities straight. Somebody in Everquest needed killing.
Xi3 Corp. has announced a development stage system optimized for computer gameplay on large high-definition television monitors. The device will be the corner stone of what will eventually become the so-called Steam Box, an affordable gaming PC specifically designed to run titles from Valves popular distribution service. Xi3 Piston will become available at a yet undisclosed date.
Housed in the uniquely shaped, grapefruit-size Xi3 Modular Computer chassis, this new development stage product is being showcased this week at the Consumer Electronics Show by Xi3 and Valve. Xi3's new development stage product is designed specifically to support both Steam and its Big Picture mode for residential and LAN party computer gaming on larger high-def screens.
Box has some upgradable components
And it already runs Linux! No need to hack it.
If they are able to pull of their concept of commoditizing the platform, it could be a game changer for Valve.
Both the PS3 and the Xbox both are closed platforms, supplied by a single vendor and are very limited in their hardware upgrades. If dozens of manufacturers are all cutting each others throats to produce the same basic hardware, hardware that is easily upgraded, they may be able to pull this off.
When the price point starts dropping below 300 bucks it will make moms and dads everywhere start looking at this rather than an Xbox or PS3. Especially since the games the kids are already playing on PC port directly over to it.
Inmy day it was the pool table....a study of angles.....
“From the stories I get, if I could take a poll on the reasons freshmen and sophomores fail out of engineering classes, heavy gaming on Steam etc is probably 100% correlated.”
Back in the ‘70s my dad warned it was the campus pinball machines. While I enjoy online gaming, as a parent, I can’t say I’m excited about this, especially since the bulk of my daughter’s Christmas money went towards Valve games. I might consider confiscation, but she knows how to use her gun.
With more than 50 million subscribers around the world, Steam is the digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications/community platform from Valve Corp. Big Picture mode allows members to access and play games through Steam on any connected high-definition television display/monitor.
Thanks to Windows 8, it is now time to move PC gaming to something like this Steam Box. I buy my games on Steam now anyway and gaming is the only thing I use a PC for (at home) since I got an iPad.
January 8, 2013 By: Phylicia Fletcher
Valve's Gabe Newell made some vague comments late last year about having a part in the development of living-room friendly PC packages, and the rumor mill was flooded with speculation. Valve today gave more specifics to those claims at CES 2013 with a small device revealed by hardware developer, Xi3 Corporation.
Engadget got a first look at the neat design and capabilities of what is currently called the "Piston," a mini-PC with a heat-resistant, aluminum chassis and a 1TB hard drive. Backed by Valve, the tiny computer is meant to run on the Steam platform with Big Picture Mode and packs a presumably powerful punch with a quad-core AMD APU, although the spec details have mostly been kept under wraps. The Piston will reportedly work somewhat like normal PCs, with a modular motherboard that allows for components to be exchanged for the latest and greatest.
Back in the 70s my dad warned it was the campus pinball machines.
And the rest is history. Well, actually in my early 30’s (1982) I took a silly Cobol course for $2,000 and ten months which led to a comfortable six figure career. :-)
What does a typical game cost ....on Steam?
By Wesley Fenlon on Jan. 9, 2013 at 6 a.m.
Modular computer maker Xi3 has developed an SSD capable of 12Gbps transfers for the X7 series releasing in 2013. That series serves as the template for Piston, a prototype built for Valve's Steam-centric hardware platform.
As the Consumer Electronics Show's press conference day wound to a close Monday afternoon, a press release from Xi3 Corporation shot the modular computer maker to the top of the CES hot list. The press release was vague, almost coy, announcing a development stage product "designed specifically to support both Steam and its Big Picture mode for residential and LAN party computer gaming on larger high-def screens." And at the bottom of the release, Xi3 tacked on this teaser: "Xi3 also announced today it has received an investment from Valve Corporation. Xi3's new development stage computer game system is also being showcased in Valve's booth (#25730) at CES 2013. No additional details about Xi3's new system or Valve's investment in Xi3 will be released at this time."
The implication was clear: Valve's Steam Box, an affordable computer designed to bring Steam and PC gaming into the living room, is finally coming, and Xi3 is behind it.
Turns out that's not the full story--Valve CEO Gabe Newell chatted with The Verge and made it clear that the company will release its own Linux-based Steam system, and that they're working with multiple partners to expand Steam's reach. But Xi3 definitely has something cooking that supports Steam. We talked with Xi3's Chief Marketing Officer David Politis to find out as much as we could about Piston, the codename for their in-development hardware.
Piston is exciting. Modular computing is cool. But out of everything we saw at Xi3's booth, one piece of technology stood out. It's called mSATAmax, and it's an SSD solution the company has been developing for its new computers, the X7 series, set to be released in 2013.
mSATAmax is fast. Really fast. 12 Gbps fast, or about twice the speed of a SATA III connector.
Here's the tantalizing bit: Politis intimated that mSATAmax SSDs won't necessarily be a premium upgrade, and these could very well show up in the Xi3 Steam Box. Yes, the miniature computer will still need competitive processors and graphics and RAM, but PC gamers can attest that an SSD enormously improves load times for games.
Here's a 3-inch long circuit board with NAND memory that's able to handle data transfers of 1536 megabytes per second.
mSATAmax is a big deal for the X7 system, but it's an exciting bit of technology in general. Forget Steam for a second--here's a 3-inch long circuit board with NAND memory that's able to handle data transfers of 1536 megabytes per second. For reference, that's triple the read/write speeds of the 2012 MacBook Air SSD, which is soldered onto the laptop's motherboard. And the 2012 Air's 350-450 MB speeds are, themselves, about twice as fast as the 2011 model's. The X7 series isn't guaranteed to deliver actual reads and writes at those speeds, but we're eager to see how close it comes.
Piston is derived from the X7 series and will resemble a $1000 build, though exact pricing for both the Piston prototype and the X7 computers are up in the air. Xi3's modular systems fit perfectly into the living room model--the X7 series measures only about 4.3 x 3.6 x 3.6 inches--but that tiny form factor inevitably raises the question of power. What kind of games can a 40 watt system play? Politis says the hardware is capable enough to run Crysis 2. That's an impressive bar, even if the game's running on lower settings. So how does the hardware compare to components we're more familiar with?
Xi3 develops specialty boards to suit different situations, and the X7A processor board will come in dual-core and quad-core AMD R-series APU variants. The CPUs clock up to 3.2 GHz speeds, which should work for most games--a CPU-intensive game like Civilization 5 could cause the processor to break a sweat. But what about that GPU? Remember that AMD's APUs combine both CPU and GPU onto one chip, just like Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge platforms.
The fastest GPU Xi3 lists for its X7 series, the HD 7660G, puts up respectable numbers on benchmarking site Notebook Check. They write the 7660G's performance is "significantly better than the Intel HD Graphics 4000 in the Ivy Bridge Quad-Core models." On medium settings, it delivered framerates in the teens or 20s for games like Far Cry 3 and Assassin's Creed 3, but it topped 30 frames per second in Borderlands 2, Sleeping Dogs, and Dishonored. In a number of cases, it could even stay about 30 fps on high settings (mostly in less graphically intensive games like Torchlight 2).
Politis hinted that Xi3 has at least one more hardware secret about the X7 series up its sleeve to reveal in the next few months.
It's hard to imagine a console competitor selling for $1000, and the fact is few PC gamers will be satisfied with what a 40 watt computer can dish out. But the X7 is at least on paper a capable little box; it offers 4 or 8 gigabytes of RAM, four USB 3.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet and a combined DisplayPort/HDMI out port. With mSATA's speed, Piston should be able to play Steam's entire library of indie games with ease. And Politis hinted that Xi3 has at least one more hardware secret about the X7 series up its sleeve to reveal in the next few months. If it's half as intriguing as mSATAmax, we say they're putting that investment from Valve to great use.
Usually, the same as it costs in the store. I like it for the convenience.
If this takes off,....what happens to the Game console makers like, ...M$,Sony, ninento, nvidia......???
By Nathan Grayson on January 8th, 2013 at 9:00 am. Tweet this
Expect EA to announce a competing Origin-branded kiwi tomorrow.
Hey everyone, youre never going to believe this. The Steam Box? Its totally real. I know, right? I mean, a series of totally unsubstantiated rumors from Valve alphabeard Gabe Newell was dubious at best, and Big Picture mode spent so much time in development for no reason whatsoever. But somehow completely unexpectedly were now here, watching Valve and mini-PC maker Xi3 team up to reveal an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand. Xi3 also compared the devices physical size to that of a grapefruit, meaning that this is yet another mind-blowing technological advancement Ill have to worry about accidentally eating.
Beyond those (subject to change) physical specs and full Steam integration, details are depressingly scarce at the moment. Fortunately, an in-development version of the magical space grapefruit will be squirting its Valve-flavored juices into show-goers eyes at CES this week, so hopefully well have more specifics soon. Until then, though, heres Xi3 being really pleased with themselves.
Today marks the beginning of a new era for Xi3, said Jason A. Sullivan, founder, President and CEO of Xi3. This new development stage product will allow users to take full-advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience. As a result, this new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand.
Its also worth noting that Valves also made a full-blown investment in Xi3, so this isnt just some throwaway third-party project. Or at least, it certainly doesnt seem that way. Meanwhile, a Linux-powered Steam box was allegedly revealed in Germany yesterday, but theres no telling if the two are one in the same.
So then, the plot thickens, and CES continues to be a treasure trove of interesting (if not necessarily glamorous) windows into the future of PC gaming. The most obvious message here? There are a lot of powerful people attempting to push PC gaming into the living room. Will it work? Will it become the new standard? And, if so, how will the change of scenery affect the focus of the games people choose to develop for our most marvellous of mother platforms? Seems like well get answers to these questions sooner rather than later. Personally, so long as I get to keep my thriving mod and indie scenes, Im fine with playing anywhere office, bedroom, living room, in a box, with a fox, whatever.
Actually, that brings us to the rather interesting question of what defines PC gaming as a whole and whether or not this type of thing presents a threat to that essence. So Im curious: what specific thing(s) makes PC gaming for you, and are you worried that wading into enemy (read: console) territory could extinguish that?
Sorry to say, but this is just nonsense. A PC is a Personal Computer. Thats all it ever was. You have an attachment to a vision created by AMD, Intel, Nvidia and the rest who had a vested interest in a gated, elite community that saw themselves as above the console gaming masses (even RPS at times have slipped into this, although usually with enough good humour to recognise it.)
This, whether it succeeds or fails, is a fantastic thing because it blurs those boundaries that we didnt want or need The sooner we see these gated communities created by console platforms (PSN, XBL, all the rest) die a death, the better, and the only way itll happen in reality is if one of those environments adopts the possibility of being open If I had to pick one of the existing ones, Steam and Valve are our best bet, and even they might screw it up yet.
Is the Gaming Singularity here? No. But this is potentially a great step toward it, if handled well.
Steam also has daily deals as well as Bi-weekly deals so be patient for games you want.