back to article Valve uncloaks prototype Steam Machine console specs

Valve has revealed details about the hardware that powers its prototype Steam Machine gaming consoles, though it cautions that future commercial devices could have specs that vary considerably from the initial models. The games publisher announced its plans to enter the console business last week, including that it would kick …

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  1. Nate Amsden

    asking for trouble

    I'm not much of a gamer but the approach they seem to be taking looks like trouble from a user experience standpoint. One of the big advantages of the consoles seem to be since they are all the same the games will work the same way on all of them (or they should). Having such a varied selection of hardware seems to invite similar troubles that impact PC gaming on the Steambox platform as well, driver quality, compatibility with Linux (as a Linux desktop user for more than 15 years now I have plenty of first hand experience) etc.....

    I bought every Loki game that was ever released even if I didn't play 3/4ths of them in a poor attempt to show my support. Obviously only to be burned later by Linux constantly breaking compatibility.

    Add to that seems like they will be pretty reliant upon streaming games from a Windows PC anyways due to lack of good, recent, native games on Linux(even on Steam - from what I've read).

    It just seems to me they are setting themselves up for a whole lot of .....nothing (relative to PS4/XBone), purely out of fear that MS wants to build an app store for windows and force everyone to use it and give them a major cut of the revenues. So instead of customers being locked into the windows app store, they get locked into another(Steam) - sounds like a good deal to me.

    Doesn't matter to me either way I play MAYBE a half dozen hours/month of games.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: asking for trouble

      Please less of the childish xbone and p*ss4 terminology for the new consoles,

    2. asdf Silver badge

      Re: asking for trouble

      >they are all the same the games will work the same way on all of them

      Until some COD version comes out towards the end of the generation that causes your launch fatty PS(x) to often overheat and reboot itself due pushing the graphics envelope. There are differences over time obviously even when they try to minimize them.

    3. Steve Knox

      Re: asking for trouble

      "varied selection of hardware"?

      A few variations of the same CPU architecture and a few variations of the same general GPU architecture?

      Even assuming you're also including the as-yet unnamed and undescribed 3rd party Steam Machines, they're most likely to use an Intel or AMD x64 CPU and an nVidia or AMD GPU.

      So the variance with these machines will be much less than that that seen in the PC community. Bear in mind that the SteamOS is a customized Linux distro, meaning Valve can choose to skip Linux kernel/driver releases that aren't compatible with their hardware -- a luxury Loki didn't have. Also AMD and nVidia have both stepped up Linux driver support efforts since Loki's time.

      I think you'll find that with the hardware discussed (esp. the i7 and the highest-end nVidia GPU) and with the TB of storage, the SteamMachine could store profiles of Wine/Crossover tweaked for individual Windows games and play them comparably well to an average PC gaming rig.

      While that doesn't appear to be included in the initial push, I'd be very surprised if Steam weren't seriously investigating that for future expansion.

    4. Homer 1
      Paris Hilton

      Re: asking for trouble

      As others have commented, a "varied selection of hardware" never stopped people playing games on Windows, so I see no reason why it would have any impact on the relatively modest variation of standard PC equipment used in the SteamBox.

      As for drivers, on both Windows and GNU/Linux, Nvidia uses the same unified driver architecture across its entire range of hardware, so pretty much any (modern) Nvidia graphics solution will Just Work®.

      Also, you've got that whole "breaking compatibility" thing back to front. It's proprietary software that breaks compatibility with Free Software, by failing to keep up, not the other way around. That's just one of the many disadvantages of proprietary software. But then I expect Valve to standardise on an LTS version of Ubuntu, and only provide updates for graphics components when both xorg and Nvidia's proprietary drivers are in sync, so I don't anticipate much problem there either, especially as Valve is unlikely to push updates it hasn't tested first.

      Ultimately the SteamBox is just a PC running Steam on GNU/Linux, which we already know from experience works, so there's no reason to assume it won't continue to work, especially on PCs explicitly certified by Valve as compatible.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: asking for trouble

      So steam on linux, which has been available and running on a very large spectrum of both linux and hardware, beyond what valve supports, is suddenly going to break on a valve supported linux distribution on officially supported hardware?

      Keep spreading FUD, good job. Meanwhile, I'm going to play TF2 on my custom pc running custom unsupported linux.

      The world has moved on, the "incompatibilities" linux boogyman stories don't work anymore

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: asking for trouble

        Not quite accurate, Brah.

        My Linux install happily plays Skyrim, Oblivion, GTA:SA, and there are reports of them managing DX:HR etc too. But it won't play, say, Bioshock2 or Infinity. Civilisation IV works for some but, sadly, not for me- something to do with XML parsing.

        Also on other, more specialised, programs they will barely work or will miss huge chunks of functionality.

        So the incompatibilities aren't a huge issue for most users, but they shouldn't be downplayed otherwise new users will be very disappointed if their favourite game doesn't work or if they have to dig through a hundred pages of manual to find a solution.

        But like I say, most common Windows programs either can be made to work or have a close FOSS equivalent

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: asking for trouble

      Presumably you can just upgrade them to a version of warez Windows for the improved graphics performance over Linux and use this to get a cheap games optimised PC without paying the Windows tax....

    7. Chris 3

      Re: asking for trouble

      You make an interesting and reasonable point, however one thing Valve has going for it, is a tremendous amount of experience (and real world stats) gathered from serving diverse Mac PC and Linux users via Steam. I would expect to see them handle this in the same was that PC games do, with the machines selecting variable video effects levels to give the best available rendering while maintaining frame rate.

      Perhaps we'll see 'suggested' video settings by default, with the ability to tinker with video for the people who really want nice reflections at the expense of some stutter.

  2. Andrew Tyler 1

    That seems like a lot of hot hardware to be hanging off a 450W power supply. My back-of-the-envelope calculations show that it could work, but it's pretty tight. I imagine they've thought all this through though.

    1. qwarty

      yeah little tight though 20nm NVidia GPU parts and Intel 14nm should open up power envelope options by this time next year.

      1. Steven Raith

        That, and an 80+ Gold PSU mean it will actually be capable of delivering a stable 430-440w for several hours on end, rather than a no-name PSU that will pop as soon as the 12v rails ask for more than 100w each...

    2. RNixon

      Most people, especially gamers, buy power supplies that are vastly overspecced for their machine.

      Part of that is because of inflationary marketing, and part of it is because a crappily made 700 watt power supply might only be able to really push 500 watts, if lucky.

      With a good quality PSU, you rarely need to go over 450 watts unless you have multiple high-end video cards.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        A decent quality PSU should be fine. 250W rated titan and 84W i7 leaves over 100W for RAM, hdd, board and powering peripherals.

        Ive been using a (now aging) 350W enermax for my i5, SSD, 6850 and 2 HDDs for some time now. It powered other similar TDP stuff before that without issue. Sure like most components it wont be able to supply 350W after a few years but no blue screens so good to go.

  3. Vociferous

    That's incredibly muscular specs.

    Literally incredible. If true, the steambox will utterly crush Microsofts and Nintendo's next-gen consoles. No contest.

    However, it's a big "if". Those muscles come at a very hefty price.

    1. Greg 16

      Re: That's incredibly muscular specs.

      A very hefty price indeed. I can't see much of a market for this as it's going to cost a lot more then the next gen consoles and most hardcore PC gamers are happy to build their own PC's.

    2. poopypants

      Re: That's incredibly muscular specs.

      The NVIDIA Titan is well worth paying a little extra. OK, the card alone currently costs the same as a couple of next gen consoles, but being able to always put all the settings on Ultra and know that the frame rate will still not drop below 60 fps is a very pleasant feeling. It also supports 4K.

      The interesting part is that halfway through the lifetime of the PS4/XBox One the Titan will be much, much cheaper, and that will benefit any games machine( like the Steam Machine) that has an upgrade path.

      Consoles however will not benefit from improved technology until the start of the next cycle.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: That's incredibly muscular specs.

        > The interesting part is that halfway through the lifetime of the PS4/XBox One the Titan will be much, much cheaper

        Halfway? The PS4/XBone are projected to not be replaced for at least _ten years_. Although I suppose if a platform like the Steambox starts generating games which continuously push the PC hardware envelope instead of there being another development plateau like it's been for the last five years, then Nintendo and Microsoft will have to update their platforms sooner than they'd hope.

      2. Piro

        Re: That's incredibly muscular specs.

        Nah, Titan is not worth extra.

        You can get factory overclocked 780s that run faster than Titan for a lot less money and heat.

        1. P. Lee

          Re: That's incredibly muscular specs.

          A 680 is even better value for money. 780/Titans are useful if you have to cram GPU into a box. I looked at the 770's and decided a 25% price premium for 10% performance isn't worthwhile. Since then the 680's have dropped further.

          Consoles are underpowered because they are designed to a price. My 9800 GT is underpowered but mostly due to massive resolution increases. The 680 is five times as fast. If Valve are aiming at TV screens the 780 is ridiculous. The problem is the massive range of game requirements. They'll need warnings about minimum and recommended hardware.

          Having said that - it makes sense to get the drivers stable at the top end rather than target the low-end which is on its way out. Steam users are mostly PC gamers and likely to be at the higher end.

          I'd like to see them get some more of the old games with mid-level requirements ported to SteamOS. Defensegrid, Lara Croft, Monkey Island - that type of thing.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: That's incredibly muscular specs.

            im sure valve will have special deals with nvidia though. Priced cheap enough and it will clean up the game market for steamos or windows as they are damn good spec boxes.

    3. Kevin 6

      Re: That's incredibly muscular specs.

      You mean Microsoft, and Sony's system not Nintendo as last time I checked almost every single game worth playing on MS or sony systems are on Steam. Whereas none of the games people like playing on Nintendo made systems are anywhere else but on Nintendo systems ;)

      That is why I've always owned a gaming PC, and a Nintendo system every console generation as I can get my 3rd party fix on the PC where I can't get my Mario/pikmin/zelda/metroid fix elsewhere ;)

  4. ADJB

    Apparently I already have a Steambox - At least the spec in the article is more or less the same as my gaming PC is so I assume I should just be able to load up the Steam OS and I should be good to go.

    I do run a much meatier PSU (750W) to give myself a bit of slack and water cool to keep the noise and heat down but those are luxury's rather than essentials. Come down to the bottom end of the quoted spec and you are price matching PS4 / XBone machines so your chasing the same market segment.

    I wonder if they want any freelance testers just to check the games comparability on a home made rig.

    1. djack

      It's my understanding that SteamOS will be free to download and install wherever you want.

      I'm sure that they'd be delighted to have your input.

    2. Tomato42 Silver badge
      Happy

      everything Gabe had said about SteamBox and SteamOS would suggests that you will be able to get the OS however you want and do with it pretty much anything

    3. KPz

      "I wonder if they want any freelance testers just to check the games comparability on a home made rig."

      They already have all the data from Steam, which gathers lots of information about the PCs Steam is running on, and what's being played.

      Take a shufti around the Steam statistics pages some time - fascinating* stuff.

      * If you are a little bit ASD, that is.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why?

    I don't see the point. All they've done is knock out a few gaming-spec pcs. Why would I want to buy one of those when I will in all likelihood be able to find a comparable machine from another vendor for less money, or build my own beast and install steam OS myself? Ok so they've added an intriguing controller to it but isn't it a bit late in the day to be entering the PC market? If it was my company I'd forget about the hardware and concentrate on the software. And the controller.

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: a few gaming-spec pcs

      They're just testing a range of specs so they can find an optimal cost/performance ratio - I expect they'll design something interesting once they've decided what to put in the box.

    2. Vociferous

      Re: Why?

      Consoles are typically sold at a loss, with costs recouperated on the games. Would you buy one of these if it was 30% cheaper than building the same rig yourself?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why?

        > Consoles are typically sold at a loss,

        That used to be the case. I don't think that's true any more.

        1. monkeyfish

          Re: Why?

          At the risk of a million down-votes, if the steam OS machine is that cheap you could buy one as your main PC and dual boot with windows...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      They're doing this because they have to. They are very dependent on Microsoft right now. I don't see Valve becoming a big console vendor themselves, for them it's good enough to have a stable OS with third parties providing the boxes (a bit like google and android). The important thing is to have an alternative that isn't tied to Microsoft.

      Posting anon because at work

  6. A J Stiles

    I wouldn't mind one

    If it has HDMI out, for compatibility with any future one-metre TV I may acquire, I wouldn't mind one.

    Then at least I can keep my PC ideologically pure. And play games on a self-contained machine that's just for playing games on.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I wouldn't mind one

      HDMI has been a standard feature of video cards for a while now. They even now come with basic sound chips to make the HDMI output basically feature-complete.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: I wouldn't mind one

        "HDMI has been a standard feature of video cards for a while now. They even now come with basic sound chips to make the HDMI output basically feature-complete."

        Yes, and a bloody nuisance to get rid of when they start hogging the audio and your high spec audio card is shunted into the sidings.

        I know, I had a hell of a job getting rid of the Nvidia HDMI from my audio setup.

  7. psychonaut

    dont get it

    Well. Lets guess now. will the i5 outperform the i7? Hmm. Will 16gb ram be better than 8? Tricky one. Upgrade path...if they stick an i7 in it, you have no upgrade path for the cpu. 1155 wont be around for 2 years let alone 5. Whats the point of this? Unless they heavily subsidise it why wouldn't you just use either a) your existing pc b) dual boot existing pc with steam c) build a new pc

    1. djack

      Re: dont get it

      The point of the differences is not to find the best performing system, it is to find a sweet spot between price and performance that a typical user would accept.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: dont get it

        And also to get real stability testing in.

        Gamers play more games than game developers due to game developers running 12 hour day most of the time.

        Jonny McGamer can spend all evening and all weekend playing and see how the OS/hardware hold up and report back to Valve either automatically or through public sources (blogs etc). Will an i5/670 handle a teenagers bedroom and it's complicated arrangement of heat sources and lack of ventilation? ;-)

        I'm guessing Intel and Nvidia have more, and better, experience tackling Linux than AMD do, hence their hardware winning out for the betas, but I've got an A8-3870 and Radeon 7770 2gb here that I'll gladly test with when Steam OS is released.

    2. Pinballdave

      Re: dont get it

      The point of this is that they're aiming at the console market. There's no point selling this to PC gamers, they're most likely to already have Steam, and in the long term are unlikely to give Valve any more money than they already do.

      The untapped marked (for Valve) is the current console owners, the ones that own an X-box/PS3/Wii for gaming, an iPad/Android tablet and a cheap laptop with integrated graphics that they bought with their groceries from Tesco. None of their platforms is a significant source of revenue for Valve, and building (or buying) a decent spec gaming PC is too scary for them to even contemplate.

      Something that can be bought from a supermarket, has a decent existing library of games and is a simple plug and play setup might tempt some of these people away from giving all their gaming money to Microsoft/Sony and into the arms of a grateful Valve.

    3. Tomato42 Silver badge

      Re: dont get it

      getting i7 over i5 for a gaming machine is at best a bad decision, at worst you're probably compensating for something

      just because there is more powerful hardware doesn't mean that it's actually worth getting it

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: dont get it

        Eeeh....that's dependant on where the bottlenecks are, really. with an i5/i7 system, your bottleneck is likely going to be GPU or storage. If you can optimise those, the CPU can do more, and the games be driven to use the free CPU time more efficiently.

        So an i7 is not necessarily a waste, if you know the system can utilise it through the game engine (or for increasing the quality of voice comms in game, etc).

        Until we see the hardware and OS in the wild, it's hard to say just how much optimisation Valve have put into this - just using a different scheduler in the kernel can massively affect certain aspects of performance, and if you aren't stuck with having to run a desktop system in the background, why use a deskop-centric scheduler, when a far more aggressive one is available, etc?

  8. Nya

    Snag is,

    while "testing" this "console" with a i7 4770 and a GeForce Titan and a load of other pretty much top of the line parts means it'll kick the living daylights out of any of the new consoles coming out and the average home PC as well. To sell such a machine is going to cost a grand or more which kind of defeats the object of a cheaply available console. Yes they will make slower models, but part of the reason for consoles is it's a uniform platform of a known design.

    Surely the model they should be playing to is a set hardware spec which can be exceeded by the home build crowd, but that set hardware spec if what the platforms games are written for. As it stands this is nothing but a standard gaming PC with a custom linux distro on it.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Not so big a snag.

      Note that ALL the CPUs are Intel-brand Core i-series and ALL the GPUs are nVidia-brand. within a generation of each other, and all using the same driver set. The spread is among those two brands, and they're all essentially compatible with each other. Some are just beefier than their brethren, which means if it runs on one of the boxes just fine, it'll run on ALL of them (some not as well, but at least it's not going to break). So in this case, Valve is looking for a reference spec they can say, "build to this and we can vouch for your experience".

      Valve is essentially doing that I'd been thinking about for some time: opening up a gaming console by essentially setting a reference design and letting other companies use that as a basis for their own Steam Machines. I'm pretty sure they won't get the designation without some compatibility testing, but Valve is getting into the console market without having to tie themselves too tightly to hardware, and since we're talking the mature PC market (a market SO mature that BOTH Microsoft AND Sony essentially chose it for their new consoles--consider THAT), problems will probably be few and far between these days.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: Not so big a snag.

        @Charles 9

        If you're licensing the design to manufacturers you're starting to smell awfuly like 3DO, and we all remember how that went. Actually most people never heard of them...

        I know it's a different marketplace these days, there are far fewer console manufacturers, and Steam have a working business model and games distribution system, but licensing the design could be messy. Given the choice most potential customers would choose the Steam-branded version unless they just don't brand one themselves (like the 3DO).

        Bear in mind that Trip Hawkins left the top tier of EA when they ruled the games world, so he wasn't inexperienced.

        Anyway, there are probably more differences than parallels, but that's my though for the day...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Not so big a snag.

          Then you forgot how much a 3DO system COST in those days. THAT was what killed the 3DO and the Apple Bandai Pippin. Both were going some $500 when the original PlayStation was capped at $300, and neither one could justify the added expense (Sony could undercut because they had some vertical integration, much as Commodore did in its heyday).

          But these days, barring the extreme high end, a PC costs pretty much the same for a given spec: perhaps a tad more if it's prebuilt.

  9. Zot

    They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

    ...the number of machines. Starting fractured is not great. From a developer point of view it would be better to only have one or two consoles. With only one being the games target, the other a media/video/web machine.

    To what spec do developer's target for maximum income? Aiming for the top spec machine won't go down well with the accountants and suits in that meeting!

    So the mid range machine to be targeted by developers will probably always be crappier than the PS4.

    We all know the spec heavy games will show up in Steam regardless of whether they'll work or not on your living room box. And that's pretty ugly presentation.

    I would have thought the general public would prefer NOT to be confused over these weird numbered specifications, so they'll choose the XBone or PS4 instead?

    1. John Gamble
      Childcatcher

      Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

      "Starting fractured is not great."

      Except, as Steve Knox pointed out above: "A few variations of the same CPU architecture and a few variations of the same general GPU architecture?"

      As someone who prefers ATI/AMD's offerings, I'd actually prefer a bit more fracturing.

      1. Zot

        Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

        "As someone who prefers ATI/AMD's offerings, I'd actually prefer a bit more fracturing."

        As long as the drivers work correctly and any GLSL code works logically and consistently, then it doesn't matter to me who makes bloody things.

        Developers are going to target the mid-range computers for their first foray into Steam OS - which will inevitably lower the average game's visual quality. But I suppose I care a little more than I should! Oh well.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

          That's the thing. AMD's Linux support isn't as robust as nVidia's. The fglrx driver series isn't as well-developed, and support for GPGPU and GPU-assisted rendering is a little behind the times (ex. XvBA, AMD's answer to nVidia's VDAPU for GPU-assisted video rendering, falls flat on my rig, and GL rendering is buggy as all getup). Plus, at present, TF2 doesn't run as smoothly as it did on my Windows install, so not everything's there, it seems.

    2. Rattus Rattus

      Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

      > "So the mid range machine to be targeted by developers will probably always be crappier than the PS4"

      The lowest-end combination of parts Valve are trying out are considerably MORE powerful than the PS4 specs, so devs will have plenty of spare capacity to try out new things.

      1. monkeyfish

        Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

        Surely the point is that Steam will insure that ALL games will work on ALL systems? But with built-in scaling of the pretty graphics so the customer doesn't have to worry about it? As in, you bought the low end version so X and Y graphic features are turned off, please upgrade to make it prettier, but the game is still perfectly playable whatever supported system you've got. That's not beyond the bounds of conception.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

        "The lowest-end combination of parts Valve are trying out are considerably MORE powerful than the PS4 specs,"

        When you look at the GPU and CPU on paper. However back in the real world, the PS4 has custom designed bus, which doesn't have to cater for lame 1980's PC technology that your home computer has to.

        When will fanboys work it out? You can't look at the consoles specs and compare it to a PC. Didn't The Last Of Us or Killzone teach you ANYTHING? They both blow away anything on the PC visually.

        1. MCG

          Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

          I like how you felt you had to post that sh1te as AC...

        2. Down not across Silver badge

          Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

          "When will fanboys work it out? You can't look at the consoles specs and compare it to a PC. Didn't The Last Of Us or Killzone teach you ANYTHING? They both blow away anything on the PC visually."

          Fanboys? Here, look in this mirror.

          Oh, and you're PC is obviously not Ultra enough.

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: They seem to be doing everything right, apart from...

            s/you're/your/

  10. phil dude
    Linux

    meaty linux box?

    So are there any indications of what linux features will NOT be supported?

    Is it too much of a stretch to imagine this as perhaps a trojan desktop, where it comes ready to play games, but a desktop session is also possible?

    I raise this as a "power" user with molecular modelling and gaming sharing many similar requirements....

    1. Tim Bates

      Re: meaty linux box?

      They've been talking like SteamOS will allow you to add other software, so I suspect 300 lucky Steam users will essentially be getting a free PC. I doubt it would be difficult to install whatever you want on it, especially if you're not against pulling out a screwdriver and connecting the HDD to another PC.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A console with none of the console advantages then.

    Hampered by PC bus and northbridge backwards compatibility and needing 2x the specs to put the high end version half as powerful as a PS4. It would also be hampered by any lack of standard steam hardware spec, so games would still have to cater for low, medium, high end, ultra-high end versions of hardware.

    for that reason - i'm out.

    Good news for Linux gamers thou. It's going to really boost the number of Linux games and the stability of the NVidia linux driver.

    1. Zot

      Re: A console with none of the console advantages then.

      Yeah, the PS4 shares it's RAM with the GPU, which gives it the massive head start it needs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A console with none of the console advantages then.

        "the PS4 shares it's RAM with the GPU, which gives it the massive head start it needs."

        Which as the PS4 uses high latency GDDR 5 is BAD for the CPU....especially as Sony don't have fast on chip cache like the Xbox One does...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A console with none of the console advantages then.

          If you had a clue it would be a miracle.

          1. GDDR5 latency is very comparable to DDR3, the technology that it is based on. GDDR5 simply places banks of DDR3 into a very wide, high bandwidth point-to-point arrangement.

          2. The Xbone's 32MB eSRAM is not a cache. It is a programmable area of high speed ram that will most likely be used to hold 4x target buffers to speed up anti-aliasing. It can do nothing at all to alleviate the Xbone's lack of GPU memory bandwidth.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A console with none of the console advantages then.

            "If you had a clue it would be a miracle."

            LOL - what a moron - you just made a complete idiot of yourself. Go use Google.

            "1. GDDR5 latency is very comparable to DDR3, "

            No, GDDR5 has significantly higher latency (typically twice that of similar DDR3). GDDR5 has swaps low latency for high bandwidth capability.

            "GDDR5 simply places banks of DDR3 into a very wide, high bandwidth point-to-point arrangement."

            No, that's not how it produces a high bandwidth - it's not about width at all. It basically puts out twice as much data via the same number of pins (32) as DDR3. So twice the effective clock rate at the same data width as DDR3

            "2. The Xbone's 32MB eSRAM is not a cache. It is a programmable area of high speed ram that will most likely be used to hold 4x target buffers "

            Which is a cache. A Programmable cache rather than a transparent one, but still a cache.

            "will most likely be used to hold 4x target buffers to speed up anti-aliasing. It can do nothing at all to alleviate the Xbone's lack of GPU memory bandwidth."

            Wow you really don't know what you are talking about. It can also store textures for instance. Just like it does on the Xbox 360. And the ~ 220GB/s peak bandwidth of the SRAM cache is there specifically so that the Xbox One requires less main memory bandwidth....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: A console with none of the console advantages then.

              Actually you just made an ass of yourself, you actually believed that 220gb/sec number that Microsoft threw out there in desperation. It's 130 back in the real world.

              http://abload.de/img/marc_ps4_xbox_terminaumsky.gif

              1. monkeyfish

                Re: A console with none of the console advantages then.

                Actually you all just made asses of yourselves, by ranting and raving as Anonymous Cowards.

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "I'm not much of a gamer but the approach they seem to be taking looks like trouble from a user experience standpoint. One of the big advantages of the consoles seem to be since they are all the same the games will work the same way on all of them (or they should). "

    Agreed, these are good points. The downside of the console approach, though, is you have games within a year of a new console being released that already max out the console hardware, then after that you have PC ports where the console port has to strip out loads of detail to run on the (by then already out of date) video hardware. If you want more quality, you're out of luck, it's going to be 4 or 5 more years until the next console comes out. With the Steam approach, the game will be able to adjust quality just like for a PC, and if you want to run the newest games at full quality you can buy a nice shiny new Steam box. I'm concerned in the long term, though, will a time come when the oldest low-spec Steam boxes can't run certain software at all, and how do you convey that? Will they say "You need level 9 video and level 6 CPU to run this?" or will it just vaguely be "some steam boxes won't run this"?

    "Having such a varied selection of hardware seems to invite similar troubles that impact PC gaming on the Steambox platform as well, driver quality, compatibility with Linux (as a Linux desktop user for more than 15 years now I have plenty of first hand experience) etc....."

    I'm sure no vendor will be daft enough to build a steam box with poorly supported hardware, and as gaming systems they won't be sticking some old S3 Unichrome or something in there. Compatibility with Linux is not an issue, steam is running on Linux, and now that Valve is shipping a supported Linux distro they will make damn sure the Steam stuff all works on it.

  13. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    It's a PC

    Tedious.

    1. PaulM 1

      Re: It's a PC

      When my family play games we play Steam games on PCs. The huge advantage that PCs have over consoles is that recent PC games can cost as little as £2 in steam sales whilst the cost of next gen console games will take many years to fall below £50. For example you can buy Bioshock Infinite for £11.89 in this weekend's Steam sale.

      If £11.89 is too much for a game then try www.humblebundle.com, where I bought 9 top EA games including Battlefield 3 and Dead Space 3 on Origin 3 weeks ago for $5. There are 1 or 2 new humble bundles each week and and the 5 oldest games in each of these bundles can be got for $1.

      I have bought 15 Humble Bundle Windows steam games which would work in the Steam Box under Linux. These games cost me a total of $10 and include popular Indie games such as Fez.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        Re: It's a PC

        The wee kidiots can update the consoles and console games all by themselves. Daddy can continue to do his daddy things in peace. Worth every last penny of Qty 100+ of the $60 games. I love consoles, we have two Xbox and three PS3s. Nil effort.

        With facking PCs, it's like being a facking IT Helpdesk drone. "Daddy, daddy. There's a message. We need to spend the rest of the evening updating things... ...again." I'd rather stick a pencil in my eye than fack around with tedious PC maintenance. PCs suck. We have five or six of the damn things, we only use two. It's a vast pain in the patuki, no wonder they're a dying product line.

        Of course, when the kidiots get older and are still playing games, they can then manage their gaming PCs all by themselves. Daddy get then get back to his BBC...

        1. Tim Bates

          Re: It's a PC

          Uh, JeffyPooh, did you forget this is about a *Steam* *Console*? Steam updates itself generally very silently. Most of the stuff it pops up messages about are either fatal (ie a console would do the same) or are not popups if you run in "Big Picture" mode, which SteamOS revolves around.

          And given it's intended to be used like other consoles, I suspect Valve have covered the idiot proofing side of things.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Colin Ritchie
    Windows

    Hey it looks like a gaming PC not a console.... Funny that.

    Steam is already built around the Intel & Nvidia PC hardware used by so many Windows users playing Valve's games. I don't think Valve want to make a console they just want all those existing gaming PCs to get their Linux distro installed on them so they can sell their market games without giving M$ the cut they want.

    If I was Valve I'd do that, the hardware model is already sitting on their customer's desks. They don't need to buy another device they just need to slip in another drive partition.

  16. croc

    "As for graphics, the prototype units will include either Nvidia Titan, GTX780, GTX760, or GTX660 components – and again, we don't know how many of each.

    Each configuration will also include ... 3GB of GDDR5 RAM for the GPU..."

    Something here does not compute. Methinks that someone sort of mis-read what Valve quoted as specs...

  17. regadpellagru

    the real point of Steam OS

    The real point is quite often missed. It is, actually, to eliminate the man in the middle from Valve's market, which is the video games market.

    Today, the middle man is either:

    - Microsoft (on PC) and their absolutely fubared and expensive series of OSes

    - Apple, and their tie-in OS/hardware, costing shit loads of bucks to get any rig

    - Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft (Xbox) with their also tied-in OS/hardware price model (by the way different from above, as it is a revenue by game model)

    By having a purely gaming OS, on commodity hardware (unlike the console model or Apple's model), they'll reduce the price of gaming by:

    - taking opportunity of the big house screen (free for gaming, already paid)

    - removing the man in the middle

    - sell direct to gamers

    So, sure, high end steam OS rigs will cost, but not more than their counterpart PC on Windows, and actually quite less, see above.

    But, by allowing gamers to adapt to whatever performance level they want, again on commodity hardware, Valve will allow for the best price, which will only be hardware price *only*.

    So, end of the day, cost of gaming on steam OS will be a strict: costs of hardware + cost of steam games.

    How can you beat that, in terms of cost or quality ?

    The lower cost for gaming has been Windows PC for a long time, but Valve has found a way to do lower by eliminating MS, following their various snafu.

    I think this is brilliant and really looking forward to it, which will by the way replace my PC rig refresh. At the same price ! Hmm, look, lower price, since I won't have to upgrade to Win 7 !

    WIN !

  18. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Steampunk

    If they settle on a spec and offer a Steam-designed custom case that's unique and appealing, it will be much more desirable than just another high-end PC clone, which is what it's looking like. Software-wise, if Steam is releasing their own OS, and can tweak it not just for performance, but for multimedia, touch screen use, and make everything work "out of the box", saving Linux novices a lot of Googling, that is another great opportunity to win the hearts of gamers. A simple and reliable recovery option would be a nice inclusion as well. Throwing in some productivity and maybe even a halfway decent CAD application (the specs are right for it) may even broaden its appeal outside of the gaming world.

    For a little extra development time and a very small amount of extra money, Steam has a great opportunity here, as I see it.

  19. Rocket
    Gimp

    "[Coomer] also said that photos of the prototype boxes would be coming soon, but that for now they're still in too raw a state to share with the public."

    And if it doesn't look like a Portal Sentry Turret I'm not interested

    1. Oli Wright

      Weighted companion cube surely?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wag the dog

    Has anybody specifically mentioned the Beta vs VHS war that pushed the video industry as a whole onto VHS? Or any of the other standardisation wars since?

    I'm wondering if Steam has enough clout to make Linux the preferred (and optimised) release type for games, with support for Windows added on as an afterthought? All my friends only use windows because it's currently the most reliable and widespread gaming platform. We all use steam pretty much exclusively too. If we were guaranteed day 1 release on Linux, an "optimised for Linux" release and higher performance out of our current hardware, we'd all make the switch (as long as our current steam library included a Windows -> Linux free conversion) without looking back.

  21. RAMChYLD

    A bit concerned with the PSU tho...

    450w, seriously? My gaming rig chewed through both a 480 and a 620, before finally lasting indefinitely on a 850. It'll be interesting to see how long the console will last on a Core i7 and a GTX780 rig. Heck, even the PSU calculator I regularly use says that they're pushing it, with the draw of the i7-4770 with a GTX780, one HDD and one optical drive whacking out 445w of power at 90% draw. A 80-plus certified Gold PSU will probably last only a few days if given a continuous shot of Borderlands 2 for 6 hours a day.

    Nevermind that Borderlands2 has become the new Bioshock for me. It just murdered one of the two GTS450 cards in my gaming rig due to a recent 4-hour marathon I had on the game...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What no ARM?

    The Reg Commentards heads are starting to explode with this outrage!

    That's almost as bad as saying you like Windows 8, or that Android uses closed source apps or that MacOS doesn't tie you to the App Store!

    It may be a fact, or your own personal opinion, but that doesn't change a thing, it is morally wrong.

  23. JDX Gold badge

    So it's just a gaming PC in a pretty box then

    Running a different variant of Linux.

  24. Irongut

    So less like a console, more like a line of high end gaming PCs.

    There's a reason consoles all use the same hardware. Valve are going to run into all the same problems that PC gaming already has with random hardware targets.

    1. cyborg
      Holmes

      Which they presumably already have anyway given their current target platform of "any PC that will run it".

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