Valve Unveils ‘Piston’ Steam Box Hardware

  • Built in partnership with Xi3
  • Grapefruit-size
  • 1 TB of internal storage

Valve has unveiled a PC-type box appropriately codenamed Piston at CES this year, intended to show off Steam game play on large high-definition TVs, making use of the company's "Big Picture" mode.

  • Built in partnership with Xi3
  • Grapefruit-size
  • 1 TB of internal storage

Valve has unveiled a PC-type box appropriately codenamed Piston at CES this year, intended to show off Steam game play on large high-definition TVs, making use of the company's "Big Picture" mode.

Built in partnership with Xi3, Piston is described by the company as a "uniquely shaped, grapefruit-size" computer chassis, with the first iteration being showcased at CES 2013.

"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," said Jason Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Xi3.

Looking to the future, he added that the two companies have their collective sights firmly set on traditional game consoles. "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."

Valve's CEO Gabe Newell confirmed that the company was working on a Steam Box in December last year.  Third-party companies will also sell Steam-backed hardware, he said. This Xi3 package is likely one of the third-party releases, not any sort of official "Steam Box."

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 internal 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.

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