Hot on the heels of Valve releasing its Steam Machines initiative, Xi3 Corporation revealed on Friday that it plans to talk more about the Piston "console" on Monday at 1pm EST / 10am PST. A call in to the company produced no results, but we were directed to past talk about how owners will be able to play their Steam games on the device. We couldn't get a confirmation, but it looks as though Piston will be Steam Machine material after all.
The Xi3 Piston is a modular computer, and according to the product sheet, comprises of a 3.2 GHz AMD Trinity quad-core chip, Radeon 7000 Series graphics, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and a 128 GB SSD. The device likely still comprises of three components: the processor board, the primary I/O board, and the secondary I/O board. Thus instead of having to replace the entire unit, Piston owners can rip out the processor board and slip in a new one. Pure awesome.
We first previewed the Piston back in January during CES 2013, and were impressed on how easy it will be to upgrade the device on a whim. That's the approach Valve has wanted to take all along from what we understand, and we were sure the Piston would be the flagship device during the show. Reports of a "distancing" between the two surfaced two months later, indicating that the Piston was not the official Steam Box. We're betting that Piston will be one of the many prototype units offered in Valve's Steam Machines beta plan next month.
The Piston unit can be pre-purchased now for a meaty $999.99 USD, and that's likely without an operating system – at least, a Windows operating system. We're betting this device will ship with Valve's free-to-use SteamOS already installed, thus all gamers need to do is plug it into an HDTV and load up their games. With a super lightweight OS and a super-fast SSD, their favorite Steam-based titles on the PC should be even better on this Linux-based system (if the game is available, that is).
"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 A. Sullivan, founder, President and CEO of Xi3 back in January. "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."
Just this week Valve Software revealed its SteamOS platform, its Steam Machines initiative, and a new Steam controller. The company said that other hardware manufacturers would reveal their Steam Machines solutions, and Xi3's solution appears to be the first. We expect to see Valve reveal several tiers of Steam Machines, from low-end devices focused on streaming games from an already-available Kepler-based PC gaming rigs (think Shield), to extremely high-end, complete solutions.
Check back here on Monday for more Piston news.
All the SteamOS, Steambox, Steam Machine, Steam Controller news so far: