Gabe Newell discusses Valve's Steam Box intentions

Valve's own Steam Box will be based on Linux; company also looking into creating its own low-latency controller with biometric feedback.


Valve CEO Gabe Newell has shed some light on Valve's own plans towards the much-anticipated Steam Box, confirming that the beloved publisher intends to make its own device, but that third-party vendors will also be invited to create their own Steam-capable hardware.

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In an interview with The Verge, Newell confirmed Valve's intentions to use Linux on its own machine but that users would be freely able to install a different OS, such as Microsoft's Windows, if they wish. "We'll come out with our own and we'll sell it to consumers by ourselves. That'll be a Linux box," Newell said. "If you want to install Windows you can. We're not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination."

Newell also spoke of Valve's plans to create low-latency controllers with biometric input, and that Valve's eventual device--which has the current codename of "Bigfoot" inside Valve--will function as a home server that can broadcast to multiple displays.

"The Steam Box will also be a server," said Newell. "Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simultaneous game calls. So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We’re used to having one monitor, or two monitors - now we’re saying let's expand that a little bit."

Following on from hardware manufacturer Xi3's announcement of its own Steam-friendly hardware, Newell spoke of how Valve has its own three-tier approach to how it sees itself and other hardware companies integrating various aspects of the Steam platform. According to Newell, Valve sees the types of hardware as "'Good', 'Better,' or 'Best'."

"So, Good are like these very low-cost streaming solutions that you’re going to see that are using Miracast or [Nvidia's] Grid. I think we’re talking about in-home solutions where you’ve got low latency. 'Better' is to have a dedicated CPU and GPU and that’s the one that’s going to be controlled. Not because our goal is to control it; it’s been surprisingly difficult when we say to people 'don’t put an optical media drive in there' and they put an optical media drive in there and you’re like 'that makes it hotter, that makes it more expensive, and it makes the box bigger.' Go ahead. You can always sell the Best box, and those are just whatever those guys want to manufacture."

And Valve's position on all this, according to Newell? "Let's build a thing that’s quiet and focuses on high performance and quiet and appropriate form factors."

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