Xi3 Piston PC: is this Valve's Steam Box?
By Dave Stevenson
Posted on 9 Jan 2013 at 10:00
US startup Xi3 has demonstrated a prototype of the first so-called “Steam Box” - called Piston - at CES 2013 in Las Vegas.
Xi3 is part-funded by software company Valve, which announced in 2012 that it expected living room PCs running its Steam software to begin competing with games consoles. That prompted online speculation about a "Steam Box" - a small-form-factor PC that would run in Steam's Big Picture mode.
In a press release, Xi3 said that the Piston would be "optimised for computer gameplay on large high-definition television monitors", and is designed "specifically to support both Steam and its Big Picture mode".
The Piston is a small-form-factor, modular PC that, in its prototype specification, runs a quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM and up to 1TB of solid-state storage, according to Time magazine.
According to reports the Piston is based on Xi3’s existing X7A small-form-factor PC. The motherboard is split into three parts, giving the Piston a modular architecture that Xi3 claims should enjoy a lifespan of up to ten years.
Xi3 stresses that the device it has at CES is a "development stage" prototype. Exact specifications remain unclear, and the graphical prowess of the system has a question-mark over it: with such small dimensions it almost certainly relies on an integrated GPU.
There's also no word yet on which OS the Piston will run. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has been a vocal critic of Windows 8, and Xi3 sells a version of the standard X7A with Linux.
A Steam Box will undoubtedly tickle the fancy of PC gamers, but both Xi3 and Valve will have a long way to go to convince console acolytes. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 console prices have sagged to all-time lows of around £120 each, making the X7A’s price of $999 (around £620) very steep by comparison.
Update: It's not the Steam Box, but it may well be the prototype of a Steam Box. The Verge sat down with Valve's Gabe Newell, who told them there will be no single Steam Box, rather many from different partners.
He explained that there will be Good, Better and Best grades of Steam Box: Better will be systems controlled by Valve, and Best is basically whatever partners want to build. "We’re not imposing a lot of restrictions on people on how they’re getting involved," he said.
Is your business a social business? For helpful info and tips visit our hub.
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to turn off Google Location Tracking
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office