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Old Jan 8, 2013, 05:07 PM   #1
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caveman-jim
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AMD Did AMD win the Valve 'Piston' design?

PCPerspective has some details on the newly announced Piston, a console for playing Steamworks games on:

Valve hired out Xi3 Corporation to develop the Steam Box under the codename Piston. Xi3Corporation was founded in 2010 and revealed their first product at CES two years ago. In late September, Xi3 launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter to fund their latest designs: The X7A and the X3A.

The X7A Modular Computer is the most interesting as it seems to be what the Piston is based on. Regardless of the Kickstarter’s failure, Valve still reached out to Xi3 Corporation chequebook in hand. According to the Kickstarter page, the X7A has the following features:
  • 64-Bit Quad-Core x86 processor up to 3.2 GHz with 384 graphics shader cores.
    • My personal best guess is the AMD A10-4600M Trinity APU.
  • 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 1 TB of “Superfast” Solid State Memory
  • Four USB 3.0
  • Four USB 2.0
  • Four eSATAp
  • Gigabit E
  • 40Watt under load
  • “Under $1000” although that includes 1TB of SSD storage.
    • Also Valve could take a loss, because Steam has no problem with attach rate.


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Old Jan 8, 2013, 10:21 PM   #2
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Based on the design we see from Xi3, AMD is the only viable option. The system will have to use integrated graphics for now and AMD is really the only true game in time for this and reasonable gaming options. This is a chance for Fusion to shine and as I have said before it needs to be AMD's primary focus.

There is still however the issue of price and OS. Steam will have to use a Windows based OS unless they develop a DX layer for Linux, not something I expect to see. To do otherwise would mean cutting out the overwhelming majority of their own library.

As for cost they are going to have really work this down. Anything priced over $500 cannot go head to head with the console market, just no way. Even in the PC market it would need this lower price as we are essentially looking at PC that can be built very cheap. it might be bigger but not by much when you realize You can put the FM2 platform into an mITX case and get basically the same machine for the same money.

Will be interesting to watch this and see how it works out.
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Old Jan 9, 2013, 10:28 AM   #3
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For longevity it needs to be a cool running device. Even an A10-5700, 65w, very nice APU can heat things up if not cooled correctly. Keep it cool and secure and the Piston (like that name!) can be one interesting device. I hope it will be much more expandable, something the other consoles are not. A less then 100w design, cool and quiet with good graphics, big inventory of games would be a winner.

As for OS, the other consoles are closed, if the Piston is on Linux it would be an open system and may garner a whole new generation of Indie game developers and if it sells well the major developers.

Maybe Valve will do a choice option of a Linux version and a Windows version.

Last edited by noko : Jan 9, 2013 at 10:31 AM.
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Old Jan 9, 2013, 10:35 AM   #4
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Now Microsoft 720, if they are smart, will be a Win8 device, maybe customized but based on the same code path to make it easier for developers and incentive to develope for Win8 pcs, Win8 consoles and Win8 tablets/phones.
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 08:10 AM   #5
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The Linux OS choice means that Steam will basically limit this to more tech oriented users out of the gate. Now I am sure they will make a GUI interface that a novice can use but again I am back to a lack of a serious library to pull from and the strength of Steam is cut out from under the platform.

Now Newell has stated that the released Steambox would be open and allow users to change to Windows if they choose but again that is not something 90% of the gamers out there would be comfortable with doing, they want something that works without them having to mess with it. They want to just play their games.

I agree on MS putting the new X-Box under Windows 8. In essence make it like a Steam box in that it is an optimized gaming PC, small form factor low cost. If they make it also run traditional PC games they will have a pure win on their hands.

Actually had a discussion about this last night with a family I know. They have an Xbox but they have found they prefer PC gaming. They use the Xbox to basically stream video to the TV and play Halo, everything else is done on the PCs. They are considering dumping the Xbox due to monthly subscriptions and all and just putting a small PC like an Edge on the TV for streaming and moving the game to 100% PC.
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 02:46 PM   #6
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The Video I watched on this device, the guy disassembled it and the graphics card is removable so its not an APU. The tiny box is all modular so it can be upgraded. Plus, didn't valve state they wanted an i7 in their steam box? No specs where revealed in the the video other than it would have 8gb of ddr3 memory and up to 3.2ghz processor. No brands were mentioned.
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 04:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WimpMiester View Post
The Video I watched on this device, the guy disassembled it and the graphics card is removable so its not an APU.
That doesn't mean it's not an APU. It just means that there is a discrete graphics card. There maybe a switching technology involved, like laptops running core i-something with an AMD or NV dGPU; or it maybe an APU with a second dGPU for dual graphics.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 08:20 PM   #8
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It's a crazy gamble.. but could come in on the upside if Valve plays it right. I don't see how a 1tb ssd drive is viable at all.. Especially given the cost vs performance improvement. A fast 1tb drive with a 64gb ssd buffer, though.. Half the cost, and likely to end up in the same real world performance. It's my understanding it'll be a *nix box, so imagine memory will be the easiest and cheapest point to pick up performance.
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