The day has finally come: Valve and computer manufacturer Xi3 have officially pulled back the curtains on the first generation Steam Box, making CES 2013 the official launch pad for Valve's long-rumored console competitor.
Valve partnered with relatively unknown computer manufacturer Xi3 to build the oft-rumored "Steam Box" which is expected to seriously compete with traditional consoles like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 for living room dominance. Rumors about the company's plans to challenge traditional consoles have been rampant in recent months, following Valve's successful rollout of Steam's "Big Picture" mode, a new addition created for those who enjoy playing controller-ready PC games on their televisions.
Update: Valve's Director of Marketing Doug Lombardi confirmed that the Piston won't be the only Steam Box making its debut at CES 2013, though he did not name any other devices or manufacturing partners in a brief statement on the topic.
Of course, while Xi3 may have been a small-time player in the world of computer manufacturing before, we'd imagine that partnering with Valve for the first official Steam Box will raise the company's profile. In fact, soon after word about the Steam Box's presence at CES 2013 got out, the Xi3 website was knocked offline by a drastic increase in web traffic.
Click HERE to see an video close-up of the "Piston" Steam Box with Xi3's David Politis
Apparently code-named the "Piston", the Steam Box being shown off by Valve and Xi3 at CES 2013 is impressively small, but still manages to pack quite a bit of power under the hood. A quick look at the Piston's back panel reveals 5 USB ports along with a number of one-off ports.
The Verge's gaming-focused sister site Polygon got a closer look at the Piston, thanks to a little hands on time bestowed upon them by Xi3, and early reports suggest the new Steam Box will only be about the size of a grapefruit when it begins shipping later this year. Valve and Xi3 apparently won't be offering a "one-size fits all" Piston when it comes to internal storage either, with Xi3's David Politis confirming that the devices would support up to 1 TB of storage space.
Click HERE to see photos of the Xi3 and Valve's new "Piston" Steam Box
The Piston's shell is a slightly modified version of the similarly tiny X7A line of computers manufactured by Xi3, though it will undoubtedly retail with a much lower price tag than the X7A's $999 base price. As many have already noticed, the back of the Piston is a veritable cornucopia of input/output options as well.
Here's the full port list, courtesy of GamesIndustry.biz:
The unit features four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, four eSATA ports, two Mini Display Port ports and one DisplayPort/HDMI port. The X7A model was previously listed as a 3.2 GHz quad-core 64-bit, x86-based processor, integrated with up to 384 graphics shader cores, and 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
Want to get a better idea as to how it's all put together?
The folks at RockPaperShotgun managed to dig up a couple of videos detailing Xi3's modular computer parts, which should give you a better idea as to how the company plans to manufacture thousands of tiny Piston Steam Boxes for gamers around the globe.
So, are you excited about Valve and Xi3's new Steam Box? Think you'll be buying a Piston when the Steam Box's release date finally rolls around?
Let us know in the comments section!