Valve's 'Steam Box' Breaks Cover at CES with Xi3's Piston PC

For the past several months, the Internet has been flush with rumors about a so-called Steam Box that has the potential to revolutionize PC gaming. Such things have an unfortunate way of disappearing into a place called VaporwareVille (the only "Ville" not owned by Zynga), but lest you fear the same fate awaits the Steam Box, check out what showed up at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

A company called Xi3 showed up with a modular computer codenamed "Piston," which Valve and Xi3 confirmed is a "computer game system optimized for Steam gameplay." In other words, this is the Steam Box we've been hearing so much about, Polygon reports.

Image Source: Polygon

The Piston is an altered version of Xi3's X7A line of mini-PCs, though the exact hardware inside is a mystery. While Xi3 and Valve aren't ready to spill the entire barrel of beans, Xi3 did say that Piston will offer up to 1TB of internal storage and will be upgradeable, including the processor and RAM.

Piston I/O
Image Source: Polygon

Some additional details are available by spying shots of the Piston. You can clearly see, for example, an Ethernet port, audio in/outputs, SPDIF optical audio, four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, four eSATA ports, two mini-DisplayPorts, and one combo DisplayPort/HDMI port.

Piston Open
Image Source: Polygon

The Steam Box (or whatever it actually ends up being called) will take advantage of Valve's Big Picture mode, which is a special interface designed for HDTVs rather than PC monitors.

There are still many questions left unanswered, and they're not just about the hardware. Will the Steam Box run Windows or Linux? How much will it cost? When will it be available to purchase? Answers to these questions are unknown at this time.