While rumours have been flying wildly about the eventual release of Valve's "Steam" console, a company called Xi3Corporation has reportedly announced that a new grapefruit-size Xi3 Modular Computer chassis will be revealed at this years currently under-way Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and will be capable of running Steam games in Steam's new Big Picture Mode.
The company has also claimed that Valve itself has made an investment in the hardware, and that it will be showcased at both Valve and Xi3's CES 2013 booths this week (via Kotaku
Housed in the uniquely shaped, grapefruit-size Xi3 Modular Computer chassis, this new development stage product is being showcased this week at the 2013 International CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada in booth #20425 in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Xi3's new development stage product is designed specifically to support both Steam and its Big Picture™ mode for residential and LAN party computer gaming on larger high-def screens.
"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."
It isn't know whether this will be the definitive Steam console that many are eagerly awaiting confirmation of, or third party OEM hardware that has similarly been eluded to in recent interviews with Valve staff.
No current specs have been revealed or a release date, however a picture from Xi3Corporation's gallery reveals what Kotaku think the chassis may look like --however, it's difficult to see how such a small thermal profile could capably run some of the higher end Steam games, so we remain unconvinced for now.
Update: While there's still no official word of confirmation or clarification from Valve themselves, Xi3 has reportedly told Polygon that the device is codenamed Piston, and is a derivative of their existing line of compact, modular X7 microSERV3R PCs, specifically with a "performance level" based on the Xi3 X7A.
Xi3 brought an early version of Piston to CES, but was tight lipped on details about the hardware currently in development with Valve. Xi3 chief marketing officer David Politis told Polygon that Piston will offer up to 1 TB of interal storage and offer modular component updates, including the option to upgrade the PC's CPU and RAM.
Xi3 wouldn't discuss price for Piston, but commented that the Steam Box is based on its "performance level" X7A offering, which is priced at $999. Xi3 declined to comment on what would differentiate Piston hardware-wise from a standard X7A.
also features several photos of the Piston-branded model.