Piston Steam Box From Valve And Xi3 Brings PC Gaming To The Living Room

The “Piston” Steam Box from Valve Software and hardware manufacturer intends to bring PC gaming to the living room. Valve’s Steam software is the largest digital distribution platform for gaming in the world, boasting over 50 million users. The idea that Valve would create their own gaming console platform has long been rumored, and now those rumors are fulfilled.

Valve has slowly been tweaking their Steam platform to be more console controller friendly. Several months ago they introduced what they called a TV-centric Big Picture mode, where Windows-based gaming machines could use XBox 360 Controllers for Windows in order to navigate, shop, and play games. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Nvidia Project Shield will make use of Big Picture mode when you use Nvidia’s system to play your PC games in the living room via wireless video.

The Piston Steam Box will make this transition complete, moving the gaming PC machine from the office to the living room. For years the biggest obstacle PC gaming has faced is a standard hardware platform that developers can target. PC gamers also like to upgrade, and are typically not happy with the limitations of the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Xi3 solves this issues by breaking the PC up into three modules: the processor module and two I/O modules. Their goal is to make upgrading a system easy for even the most n00bish user. Xi3 and Valve haven’t released any exact specifications, but Tech Spot says we can make a guess:

“[T]he Steam Box is based on its “performance level” X7A offering. For what it’s worth the latter starts at $999 and has a quad-core AMD APU, up to 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, up to a terabyte of solid state storage and support for three monitors. Connectivity and expansion features include one ethernet, 1/8″ audio in/out, SPDIF optical audio, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, four eSATAp ports, two Mini Display Port ports and one DisplayPort/HDMI port.”

Although Valve has invested into Xi3, the Steam box might also be an open standard that many manufacturers can produce. The Steam Box will be so open that you could install Windows instead of Linux, if you so wish. Valve representative Tom Giardito told PC Magazine “that, in fact, Xi3 is just one of many hardware partners working with Valve. He said Valve attended CES this year primarily to meet with manufacturers and explore how a Steam Box-type interface or standard could be set up across many devices. Furthermore, he said that Steam Boxes — whatever shape they take — won’t be available until after a lengthy testing.”

According to NBC, Valve CEO Gabe Newell sees the controllers of the Steam Box going beyond even the efforts of the Nintendo Wii U:

“I think you’ll see controllers coming from us that use a lot of biometric data. Biometrics… is essentially adding more communication bandwidth between the game and the person playing it, especially in ways the player isn’t necessarily conscious of. Biometrics gives us more visibility. Also, gaze tracking. We think gaze tracking is going to turn out to be super important.”

What do you think about the Steam Box?