A Steam Box?
Xi3 are to reveal a new living room PC at CEX this week: a grapefruit-sized cube designed specifically for use with Steam's Big Picture Mode.
That's funded by a substantial investment from Valve.
So... is this the prodigal Steam Box, then? More details below.
Described as a "a development stage system optimized for computer gameplay on large high-definition television monitors," this new PC is roughly the same size as the Ouya but built around Steam's Big Picture Mode. Xi3 publicity officer David Politis told Polygon that specs will likely be in line with their X7 series hardware line that was unsuccessfully Kickstarted last year, which suggests that a a Quad-Core 64-bit, x86-based processor running at up to 3.2GHz, integrated with up to 384 graphics shader cores, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 16GB-1TB of solid-state storage, dual monitor support, 6 USB 2.0 ports and 2 eSATAp ports might be a reasonable benchmark. Despite the small form factor, it will be designed to allow for easy upgrades.
The project doesn't currently have a commercial identity beyond a working title - Piston - which is suggestive in and of itself. Since Valve have invested heavily in the company, many pundits are wondering whether this could be Valve's first major foray into the hardware market. The fact that the X7 range runs on Linux adds credence to the idea, as Valve are currently heavily invested in the OS and are reportedly interested in its lower licensing costs compared to Windows.
Whether this is the rumoured Steam Box, a prototype or merely a Steam Box remains to be seen. More as it comes in.