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Steam Operating System


Mr March
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Valve released specs their steam machine protoype: pretty powerful

The 300 prototype units will ship with the following components:

GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660

CPU: some boxes with Intel : i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3

RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB DDR5 (GPU)

Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD

Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold

Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/steamuniverse#announcements/detail/2145128928746175450

Yeah, some of those specs are for the high-tier of the Steam Machines for sure. Those compenents are approaching the power of my current desktop machine, so they'd be very expensive. Looking great so far :)

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So...Haswell? That was an interesting choice of CPU. In my own desktop system, I use Ivy Bridge. The other components seem good for gaming (and the small chasis is cool), but I would also try to find a way to fit an idividual SSD boot drive and notebook-sized HDD drive for data. I'm just not sure of those hybrid drives. I wonder if the Steam Machine will eventually support a two drive configuration?

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So...Haswell? That was an interesting choice of CPU. In my own desktop system, I use Ivy Bridge. The other components seem good for gaming (and the small chasis is cool), but I would also try to find a way to fit an idividual SSD boot drive and notebook-sized HDD drive for data. I'm just not sure of those hybrid drives. I wonder if the Steam Machine will eventually support a two drive configuration?

I use hybrid drives and it's a good compromise for storage and SSD-like speed. It's there likely because you'll be downloading games from Steam and running from the system. And the more stuff you put on the drive, the more storage you'll need. For the price, SSD can't compare with regular HD storage. So that leaves the alternative of Hybrid drives.

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Thanks for the info on hybrid drives! The last time I read a bout the subject, they were still relatively new.

But this still begs the question, why set up the Steam Machine with only one HDD? Drives are no longer bulky 3.5" blocks of wasted space. And with a Linux operating system it makes sense to partition a separate boot drive and data drive. At least, it makes sense to me.

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But this still begs the question, why set up the Steam Machine with only one HDD? Drives are no longer bulky 3.5" blocks of wasted space. And with a Linux operating system it makes sense to partition a separate boot drive and data drive. At least, it makes sense to me.

A 1TB drive will be more than enough for most people. It's likely the 1TB 2.5" Seagate SSHD.

http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-Solid-Hybrid-2-5-Inch-ST1000LM014/dp/B00B99JUBQ

Why 1 HD? Because, this is suppose to be a HTPC/console-like machine. Usually you'll want those devices to be small so that you can move it around, stick it into small spaces, or keep it out of immediate view. You won't have room for 2 drives in there if you're trying to keep it as small as possible. So a 1TB SSHD makes sense. A Linux install can be quite small if necessary. That leaves more room for games, HD movies, HD TV shows, tons of music, etc., which they are expecting you to load on this machine.

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Right. Having built my own breadbox HTPCs, I was thinking that you can do a lot with 2.5" drives. The 7mm drives allow for even more clearance. However, if this is more like an AppleTV or Wii Chasis, then two drives are definitely out of the question. The size of a Linux base installation is not something that I'm really concerned with in my critique. I was thinking about creating a failsafe. For example, i like having a separate system drive and data drive in case one develops a problem. In that case, it is easier to troubleshoot and replace, if necessary. When everything is on the same drive, it becomes more of a hassle.

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1TB should be plenty for a system that's supposed to be more console than PC. I have a 1TB hard drive in my main gaming rig just for Steam. I have 57 games installed, and I'm using less than half of the drive. Even if you take up some more space for the OS, since I boot Windows off of a 128GB SSD, you'd still have plenty of room for 80-100 installed games.

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At this point, I agree. However, I cannot predict how requirements might change in the future and I don't know how other users configure their libraries. My steam directory takes up 50GB at the moment, but I only have 14 of my 67 games installed. My installation tends to focus on games that I am playing through right now. Since this is being marketed as a console alternative, I would guess that drive replacement is as easy as it is in other systems/PCs that allow for user-serviceable parts.

I guess I get itchy seeing just one drive with no explanation for it. Something from my IT past doesn't trust that configuration. I would like to see separate physical drives for the system and data partitions just to be safe. But that's my opinion. As I noted above, the Steam Machine could be tiny or Valve could be satisfied with the quality of the hybrid drive it is using. In that case, the point is moot beyond what users can do with their own designs. On the upside, one HDD gives only one point of failure, so there's that.

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  • 5 weeks later...
Guest davidwhangchoi

Prototype pictures released of the steam machine

STEAM_M_console__hero.jpg

2013-10-23_05-17-43.jpg

also steam mentions that they will not make half life 3 steam machine exclusive and would not do that to consumers

really good article that interviews valve on topics such as steam Os,the origin/evolution of the controller and insides of the steam machine design.

http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/4/5063760/we-try-the-steam-machine-valves-video-game-console-of-the-future

Edited by davidwhangchoi
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I'll be very interested to see how well this thing pans out, but as long as it's just playing PC games, I don't think I see a reason to get another box to play them on. I've never liked playing on a TV just because you have to sit so close to the screen before you can read things.

It's worth highlighting two things from the developer comments I read. The dual trackpads seem very advanced, especially with haptic feedback. Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan games say they feel like "weighted trackballs", so the responsiveness could be better than you think. He did say it's more precise and better for FPS games than traditional controllers.

I discussed this controller with a few friends recently, and pretty much everyone agreed, that was the most "WTF?" idea ever... particularly the "weighted trackball" bit.

Because, you know, there are so many incredible gaming trackballs available on the market.

I've tried gaming with a trackball before. It was almost as useless as gaming with a laptop trackpad. I think the last (if not only) time I actually saw a trackball purposed for gaming, it was on a Centipede/Missile Command arcade cabinet.

Edited by Chronocidal
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I'll wait for the final judgment on the controller until I had the change to try one out. Maybe Valve has something incredible new up their selves. You know the things that look like notebook touchpads could be some new technology that are forming a 3d stick out of thin air like the HMIs in the new Superman movie. :)

All I can say is that I can't aim in shooter games with a controller even if my life depends on it. :lol: Maybe this will be a game changer maybe not. I cannot tell from an image.

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I will say this about the controller; I have serious doubts it will ever be the instant gratification answer people are looking when PC gaming on a console. While everything I've seen of the controller leads me to believe it's going to be better than those silly analogy sticks we use on all our current devices, I suspect it's a compromise controller at best. I also think that we'll be required to endure a rather significant learning curve to make it work. I'm definitely mentally preparing myself for frustration and anger when using the controller at first, but I'm making a pact right now to put a real effort into learning and training with this controller before writing it off.

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Mr. March: I agree. A trackball device has its own learning curve, but can be very ergonomic if one puts the time into mastering it. I use one for my diy HTPC instead of a remote. If the Valve controller shares certain characteristics with a trackball device, then I can imagine it having a cetain advantage over traditional analog sticks. However, I have yet to be convinced that this is an all-in-one device that will replace all controllers in the PC space. It could very well be an improvement to other console controllers, though. But I would love to try one out for myself first, before saying anything definitive.

After all, it could also be trading one set of compromses for another.

I'm also curious about how flexible the controller will be outside of the SteamOS environment. Will a customer be able to buy one and use it with a more traditional diy or pre-built PC running Windows or another Linux OS?

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Ok, i have been out of the loop on this, but now reading that article I have to ask, what's the point? This is basically a nice gaming computer slammed into a small package with a controller that is unfamiliar to the target market. Why not just spend the money on an equivalent gaming rig, and then you have the ability to actually work on it too? A computer built to a specific function is the reason I don't buy consoles to the begin with.

Also in regards to the trackball debate. I use a trackball exclusively, except at work. I wish MS hadn't discontinued the trackball that I have loved since the day I got it, with the big thumb controlled ball on the side. It fit my hand great, had fantastic responsiveness, and lasted me 10 years before it finally wore out. MY logitech wireless, while of a similar form factor, is just too small for my hand, but I still prefer it to a mouse, as does my oldest son. Heck he still use the MS Trackball we stitched back together despite its issue because he prefers it to the mouse.

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A lot of this also has to do with growing shifts in the computing/gaming world on the accessibility of platforms for development. The start of this emerged with the apps store for apple and later PC. The previous step was the steam for linux, and now this. It really is trying to preserve the gaming market dynamics from 1990 to today.

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Ok I see the point, from a certain POV, but with the specs they've published why not go with a dual boot system, kind of like the old school Commodore 64 where if you had the game plugged into the back it booted up straight into the game. Obviously that wouldn't work with downloaded games but have something like two power buttons on the unit:

#1 boots the system up in STEAM OS, straight up games, no surfing, no TV, no productivity, etc...

#2 boots the system up in windows/linux so you can use the machine for productivity.

Given that this unit is based so heavily on existing PC hardware why not that option?

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Mr. March: I agree. A trackball device has its own learning curve, but can be very ergonomic if one puts the time into mastering it. I use one for my diy HTPC instead of a remote. If the Valve controller shares certain characteristics with a trackball device, then I can imagine it having a cetain advantage over traditional analog sticks. However, I have yet to be convinced that this is an all-in-one device that will replace all controllers in the PC space. It could very well be an improvement to other console controllers, though. But I would love to try one out for myself first, before saying anything definitive.

After all, it could also be trading one set of compromses for another.

I'm also curious about how flexible the controller will be outside of the SteamOS environment. Will a customer be able to buy one and use it with a more traditional diy or pre-built PC running Windows or another Linux OS?

technoblue

I agree that I cannot see the Steam Controller being any kind of replacement for mouse and keyboard, for which I remain convinced sits on the top of the controller food chain. However, I think you may be assuming too much of Valve by thinking the Steam Controller was ever intended to replace the mouse/keyboard combo for PCs. As far as I can tell, the Steam Controller's main purpose is to solve the problem of HMI for a PC in the living room. Valve knows - just as we all do - that a keyboard/mouse isn't going to fly on the couch. So if they want PC gaming in the living room, it has to use some kind of game controller. That's all.

To be honest, the idea of buying a Steam Controller for my desktop PC never even occurred to me. Why? Because I use a gamepad on my PC for most of my indie games but when I purchase a Steam Machine, I don't see myself playing those games on my desktop PC anymore. The Steam Machine will grant me all the advantages of playing console games on a PC (resolution options, customized controls, etc) but all the convenience of a gamepad and my couch :)

Basically, my conception of PC gaming post-Steam Machine looks like this:

  • On my Steam Machine, I will play: Most of my old games, platformers and indies (Portal and Portal 2, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Limbo, Fez, Mark of the Ninja, etc)
  • On my Personal Computer, I will play: Strategy Games and High-End 3D First-Person Shooters (DOTA 2, X-COM Enemy Unknown, Starcraft II, Far Cry 3, Battlefield 4, Bioshock: Infinite, etc)

I have a hunch that I'm naturally going to play most of my communal co-op games and platformers on a Steam Machine. I see my desktop PC being the place I play all the personal and/or competitive games that you can't really play in pairs or a group. One of the best console experiences I've had this year was playing hotseat in The Last of Us with my roommate, so I can see myself doing that with similar types of games on the Steam Machine. I won't ever play games like X-COM or Battlefield 4 with anyone else in the room.

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Ok I see the point, from a certain POV, but with the specs they've published why not go with a dual boot system, kind of like the old school Commodore 64 where if you had the game plugged into the back it booted up straight into the game. Obviously that wouldn't work with downloaded games but have something like two power buttons on the unit:

...

Given that this unit is based so heavily on existing PC hardware why not that option?

Compared to most consoles, that's a lot of work to dual-boot when most consoles run everything from 1 OS. The Steam Box is suppose to be Valve's entry into the living room. Enthusiasts can create a dual-boot system on their own and load SteamOS but for people who will not be making a box for SteamOS, there's Steamboxes for the masses. And those people will not be doing work on their Steam box so why dual-boot.

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Actually, just talking about the Steam Machine and PC made me realize something about my own personal game purchasing habits; I think the Steam Machine is going to be the death bell for me and consoles. I already despise console exclusives and the inefficiency of buying more than one gaming console pisses me off. This last console generation was so expensive, I bought my X-Box 360 used off a friend and purchased my Playstation 3 on sale, both of which I purchased 3-4 years past launch. Since I am buying a Steam Machine, there is no chance I will own all three and quickly dwindling incentive to own more than one console at all.

So many of my PC purchases are already influenced by their availability on Steam, I imagine that is only going to increase once I own my Steam Machine. If it isn't on Steam, it should be because that's how I want it. I know I shouldn't think like that, but Steam is just so damned convenient, so user-friendly and they offer the best sales in the industry.

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Guest davidwhangchoi

Steam is taking a page from a Gundam plot. looking like a harmless way to get into the living room by promoting the PC, but secretly working on taking over the PC and console market...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I will say this about the controller; I have serious doubts it will ever be the instant gratification answer people are looking when PC gaming on a console. While everything I've seen of the controller leads me to believe it's going to be better than those silly analogy sticks we use on all our current devices, I suspect it's a compromise controller at best. I also think that we'll be required to endure a rather significant learning curve to make it work. I'm definitely mentally preparing myself for frustration and anger when using the controller at first, but I'm making a pact right now to put a real effort into learning and training with this controller before writing it off.

Its different and it will be frustrating at first. Its not like anything you've seen. I guess it operates like a flat trackball... I can see how it gives a more accurate tracking than traditional analog stick.

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But who in their right mind games with a trackpad, or trackball? I mean, I suppose I can understand it being an improvement over aiming with a stick.. but by removing the sticks entirely, you're also assuming the trackpad will be a useable replacement for all the other things sticks are perfectly useful for. Like walking, steering, flying, etc.

It seems like they're attempting to generalize the entire function of a gamepad to improve on just the right analog stick function, and only for FPS games. I can see it being useful for aiming, but why do they feel the need to replace both sticks for that? I can just imagine the rage now, as people place their thumb not exactly centered on the pad, and end up walking over a cliff, or any number of other extremely silly ways to die.

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But who in their right mind games with a trackpad, or trackball? I mean, I suppose I can understand it being an improvement over aiming with a stick.. but by removing the sticks entirely, you're also assuming the trackpad will be a useable replacement for all the other things sticks are perfectly useful for. Like walking, steering, flying, etc.

There is definitely a market for trackballs... its not that apparent but people do use them for RTS gaming. That's the main thing that this game system is aiming to do.

It seems like they're attempting to generalize the entire function of a gamepad to improve on just the right analog stick function, and only for FPS games. I can see it being useful for aiming, but why do they feel the need to replace both sticks for that?

Its not FPS gaming... its RTS that its aimed at. More like a bridge that allows a greater array of games to be played. If they wanted to just do FPS, then they probably would have stayed with a traditional analog stick.

I can just imagine the rage now, as people place their thumb not exactly centered on the pad, and end up walking over a cliff, or any number of other extremely silly ways to die.

I don't think that's a problem at all actually... I believe it has a logarithmic function for pressure:nearer to the centre means less movement than further away. It also has this perceptible clicking feeling and noise that tells you how much pressure you're pushing.

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See, that's news to me, because I didn't think RTS games are even a big enough market to validate focusing that much on. I'd love to see a demo of one with that trackpad, because that might work decently. Still not as good as a mouse (trackballs drive me insane honestly), but probably a quantum leap over trying to use a stick.

I guess my confusion is why they're trying to make a console out of a computer, when all the consoles seem to be doing the opposite, and becoming more computer-like.

The biggest issue I see with the entire steambox thing is that they're deciding to run linux on it, and how that's going to actually impact the selection of games it'll run.

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I guess my confusion is why they're trying to make a console out of a computer, when all the consoles seem to be doing the opposite, and becoming more computer-like.

To be clear, Valve's intention is to meet customer demand, NOT build consoles. Fans have been asking Valve for a Steam Machine to play their Steam catalog of PC games in the living room for almost a decade now. Valve's "Big Picture" was the software solution, the Steam Machine is the box solution and the Steam Controller is the HMI solution. The Steam Controller is the best idea they could create to allow control for PC games in the living room while avoiding a mouse/keyboard on your couch, which we all know is impractical.

Now, the Steam Machine - if successful - may very well change the definition of what is PC gaming and what is console gaming. But that is simply a side effect of getting Steam customers PC games in the living room.

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Valve tend to like people who run with their ideas. :wub: I'm kinda sure you'll be able to use generic USB devices.

I would much rather use a trackball than 'analogue' sticks for FPS games. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out. :)

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