Project Piston, the Steam Box Prototype Xi3 Style…

A match made in heaven, Steam and micro PC maker Xi3 have been seen around the halls of CES in compromising positions. With Xi3 hardware on display at Steam’s booth and Xi3’s CEO talking up everything Steam something is in the air.

Project Piston is result of this not so secret partnership, a micro computer not much larger than a Rubik’s cube that also happens to be the Steam Box prototype.

The latest product developed by Xi3 is designated the X7A, this is thought to be the technological foundation of the Steam Box prototype. Keeping with Xi3’s compact form factor and modular design the X7A measured a mere 11cm at each corner, a tight squeeze for a fully fledge PC. Clever by design Xi3 have split the PC’s motherboard into 3 parts that are laid around the inside surface of the cube. See the previous Highpants article on Xi3’s excellent chrome cube for more information.

Internally the system will contain an AMD A10 quad core APU (3.2Ghz to 3.8Ghz) with built in GPU, 8GB of RAM and up to a terabyte of solid state storage. Ports fill the diminutive rear panel; Ethernet, audio, USB 3 and USB 2, eSATA, two mini display ports and one DisplayPort/HDMI port.

Project Piston, the Steam Box.
Project Piston, the Steam Box.

There is no word yet of the configuration used by Piston or which GPU the Piston test system used. The number of display ports available does suggest that two GPU’s may be present, one integrated into the A10 APU and a discrete GPU, this is pure speculation though.

Pricing is also currently up in the air, the X7A system was designed to provide a base $500 system and higher spec’d $999 system but Steam may have something to say about those previous plans.

According to a recent press release from Xi3 they have received investment funding from Valve. Xi3 are a small PC maker with some excellent technology that has been struggling to find its feet, Valve may just be the direction they have been looking for.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for Xi3,” said Jason A. Sullivan , founder, President and CEO of Xi3. “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. As a result, 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.”

As the details of the Steam Box begin to take shape it is also becoming clear that gamers are going to be very well catered for in 2013. The Linux based big screen gaming cube that is the Steam box will be joined by Android consoles, next generation big name consoles and more touch screen gaming than ever.

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Reference: Xi3 Press Release

Reference: Xi3 Homepage