Author Topic: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???  (Read 9058 times)

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Offline slateraptor

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Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« on: December 10, 2012, 05:24:24 am »
Some time ago, there was a bit of gossip about why Valve, a video game company, was employing hardware engineers, e.g. Jeff, Jeri, et al...and then I stumbled upon this article on YCombinator News:

http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/valve_confirms_they_are_working_steam_box123

Just thought I'd share.
 

Offline HardBoot

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2012, 05:36:08 am »
It's be a hit if it had the entire steam library, a failure if it didn't... would need to be very powerful.
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2012, 07:02:56 am »
If that's the case then I hope they get a bigger hardware group!
I was under the impression that Jeri, Alan, Jeff, Ben et.al were working on new types of interactive controllers or some such.
They won't be able to do that research and produce a high end game console as well  :-//

Dave.
 

Offline slateraptor

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2012, 07:31:08 am »
If that's the case then I hope they get a bigger hardware group!
I was under the impression that Jeri, Alan, Jeff, Ben et.al were working on new types of interactive controllers or some such.
They won't be able to do that research and produce a high end game console as well  :-//

Dave.

Agreed. I'd be very surprised if this was the only hardware project in Valve's hip pocket.
 

Online Psi

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2012, 09:05:46 am »
The steam box will contain regular PC parts in a fancy case. So no real development needed on that side of things.
They just need to decide on which mb/cpu/ram/vid to use, make a case for it and perhaps add some status LEDs.
They obviously need controllers which is where Jeri, Alan, Jeff, Ben etc. come in.
The whole unit will pretty much be a Linux box that automatically boots up into the linux version of Steam running in "big picture mode"

Since it runs under Linux the number of games that run natively will be limited at first. Valve are working hard to get the source engine working under linux. They have Left4Dead running in Linux already and it's even faster than under windows.
So it shouldn't be hard to get all the other games that use the source engine running as well Halflife, TF2, portal etc.
Its anyone's guess whether they will incorporate WINE integration into steam for linux so x86 games can be run directly from steam, but it seems likely.

I would imagine Steam for Linux will come first with a few initial source engine games. It will grow pretty quickly to include other games which already have linux versions eg, Id Quake series etc..
Once they get enough games in the system the Steam box will appear.
And of course, just like under steam on windows, 3rd parties will be able to release their games onto steam in linux and by reference that will make them available in the steam box
« Last Edit: December 10, 2012, 10:54:31 am by Psi »
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Offline peter.mitchell

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2012, 09:31:33 am »
Rumour has it that Bens latest idea for a new controller is x-ray based.

Just kidding... But he has been doing a lot of x-ray related videos lately, I like Ben.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2012, 10:50:53 am »
I mean really on the processing side what else do you need other than a dual or quad-core intel/AMD?
I think what they need is a APU (like trinity) and the processing side is done.
 

Online Psi

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2012, 10:53:07 am »
I mean really on the processing side what else do you need other than a dual or quad-core intel/AMD?

It's more about what deals can you get from the manufacture to lower the cost.
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 

Offline HardBoot

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2012, 11:01:57 am »
It's more about what deals can you get from the manufacture to lower the cost.
AMD would be a pretty good choice since they'd be a 1 stop shop for an entire system, AMD's CPUs are lacking in power but run any game just fine and are cheap. AMD's ATi is basically the best GPUs in terms of cost, performance, and power efficiency to help make up the the CPU.
ATi is in the 360 and Wii and nVidia in the PS3... and you know how the costs compare.
WINE integration
A custom wine config for each game would actually let you run pretty much anything, only games which need really shitty software that digs into Windows wouldn't run.

If Valve releases an official Steam computer... It could be as cheap as $300 and still able to run games at 1080p with high settings.
It'd probably be a single-board system; $40 CPU $60 GPU, $20 power, $40 4GB DDR3 + 1GB GDDR5 $50 motherboard, $40 hard drive... $250 + case... don't need disk drive.
 

Online Psi

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2012, 11:07:24 am »
AMD would be a pretty good choice since they'd be a 1 stop shop for an entire system, AMD's CPUs are lacking in power but run any game just fine and are cheap. AMD's ATi is basically the best GPUs in terms of cost, performance, and power efficiency to help make up the the CPU.
ATi is in the 360 and Wii and nVidia in the PS3... and you know how the costs compare.

ATI may also be better from a linux driver perspective however i'm not sure the AMD cpus with builtin ATI video have enough power for serious gaming, so it may still need a videocard.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2012, 11:09:03 am by Psi »
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Offline HardBoot

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2012, 11:18:25 am »
AMD would be a pretty good choice since they'd be a 1 stop shop for an entire system, AMD's CPUs are lacking in power but run any game just fine and are cheap. AMD's ATi is basically the best GPUs in terms of cost, performance, and power efficiency to help make up the the CPU.
ATi is in the 360 and Wii and nVidia in the PS3... and you know how the costs compare.
ATI may also be better from a linux driver perspective however i'm not sure the AMD cpus with builtin ATI video have enough power for serious gaming, so it may still need a videocard.
I wasn't suggesting using Fusion, it's not good enough yet, but it won't be long until AMD has a fusion chip powerful enough for midrange gaming, the better ones are already enough for casual gaming.
Having a regular graphics card and CPU soldered onto a single board with RAM keeps costs really low.

Something like a 7770 would probably crush future consoles and it's just $100 OEM.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2012, 01:01:49 pm »
The 7660D crushes the R700 in the Xbox 360 easily. Given better optimized code the 7660D can render fantastically
Throw some natively running DDR3-1866 RAM in you're good to go
Pretty sure if DICE is able to write the BF3 for xbox @ 1080p running at 30FPS surely the 7660D won't be able to do it?
Consoles don't really NEED to have a 7770
the 7660D is good enough for midrange gaming and certainly more than twice a HD4000  :-//

And... ATI is long dead!
 

Offline HardBoot

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2012, 04:29:55 am »
The 7660D crushes the R700 in the Xbox 360 easily. Given better optimized code the 7660D can render fantastically
Throw some natively running DDR3-1866 RAM in you're good to go
Pretty sure if DICE is able to write the BF3 for xbox @ 1080p running at 30FPS surely the 7660D won't be able to do it?
Consoles don't really NEED to have a 7770
the 7660D is good enough for midrange gaming and certainly more than twice a HD4000  :-//
And... ATI is long dead!
Yes it crushes the 360/PS3, but they're ancient, it'd be cheap beating next-gen consoles with a cheap application of off the shelf hardware and would put Valve far ahead of Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo for a very long time, they could quickly put most of the entire Steam library on the unit, resulting in the Valve console having hundreds more titles off the bat and any future releases would also be on for 6-8 years.
Valve is also starting to put normal software on steam, so the console could be an entire replacement for a PC for many users, this could hit Microsoft and all of the PC manufacturers.

Valve knows as computers turn into a walled garden where MS/Apple/Google monopolizes the distribution of software, they will be wiped out unless they take an innovative and aggressive approach.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2012, 05:13:21 am »
Here's massive problem though : many of console gamers gone on/back to PCs for reasons
- More restricted
- MUCH Lower? specs
- Less options
- RRoD/YLoD
Stuffing a 125W TDP proc into a footprint like this is never a good idea (And i know it) the new xbox 360 S is still hot as hell, not as worse but still hot as hell
PS3 is not barred the slamming either
 

Offline HardBoot

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2012, 05:37:07 am »
The failure rates of the 360 and PS3 is disgusting, I don't know a single person who hasn't had their console die after 1-2 years.
Such shitty expensive hardware, expensive titles and small library, limited capabilities(PS3 does less now than it did on release, Sony going backwards), it's completely ended consoles for me, and all of my friends have been turned away to varying degrees.
125w processor in something the size of a Gamecube isn't even a problem, the design just can't be shit and shitly made.

Steam Box may finally be a modern "console" done right since PS2/Xbox/Gamecube*. Microsoft and Sony are clearly too incompetent and Nintendo doesn't give a fuck.

*Great hardware but Nintendo starting showing off their lack of giving a fuck, never took full advantage of it.
 

Offline cwalex

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2012, 11:51:30 am »
They could use an MXM type video card and just make it easily accessible for upgrades to save cost and still keep power consumption low with ease of user upgradeability.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2012, 01:27:36 pm »
Yeah but it's a futile exercise since the laptop GPUs have nowhere near enough performance of a desktop one and that aside if you need performance you need a 7970M anyway which is massive in terms of power usage
A console is probably limited to 60W in terms of GPU power usage and that a i3-3220 is about 55W already (And 2 cores ain't any good for gaming, actually you need something like a A10-5800k or 5600k)
 

Offline slateraptor

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2012, 03:30:38 am »
(And 2 cores ain't any good for gaming, actually you need something like a A10-5800k or 5600k)

Roughly 14 years ago, I was top-300 global ladder ranked on Starcraft bnet using a 133MHz Pentium + 4MB RAM + 28.8k dial-up connection...you've gotta be shittin' me if a modern 22nm multi-core CPU clocked an order of magnitude faster driving Linux-on-a-diet, a dedicated GPU, and broadband connectivity "ain't any good for gaming".
« Last Edit: December 12, 2012, 03:36:31 am by slateraptor »
 

Online Psi

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2012, 03:34:46 am »
Starcraft is about strategy, with those sort of games the speed of your PC isn't as important.

Things are changing in the gaming world, the extra cpu cores are being used for more advanced AI, simulation physics and procedural generation.
It's not going to take long before games require 2+ cores. There maybe some that already do.

« Last Edit: December 12, 2012, 03:40:03 am by Psi »
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Offline slateraptor

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2012, 03:57:12 am »
Starcraft is about strategy, with those sort of games the speed of your PC isn't important.

Things are changing in the gaming world, the extra cpu cores are being used for more advanced AI, simulation physics and procedural generation.
It's not going to take long before games require 2+ cores. There maybe some that already do.

The point I was trying to make is that gaming in general doesn't necessarily require ridiculous high-performance hardware, especially when piggy backed on a dedicated platform where resources can be tightly controlled.

Last time I checked, the closed console model functions by designing games around the hardware platform, not the other way around. If a dedicated console can't keep up, then the game is flawed, not the hardware. My 2 cents on that note.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2012, 05:30:27 am »
In the same way a IBM Xenon is a tri-core proc, granted it's only probably as fast as a Pentium D but still it's a TRIPLE CORE
But trust me having extra cores is a good thing (A low power performance APU will be the A10-5700 not the 5600k)

I mean like come on, you seriously want a dual-core for a gaming box? Let them have a bit more computing room! This is not 2005 for god's sake
Even ARM is moving on to 2nd gen quad cores already so why not a quad-core? Considering a dual-core usually is relegated to the not so much of computational efficient per watt but efficient per dollar
 

Offline slateraptor

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2012, 06:53:47 am »
But trust me having extra cores is a good thing...

If your innovative mindset is still stuck in the proverbial box, then sure, having extra cores is probably a good thing. But if you're an outside-the-box thinking company like Valve seeking an innovative entry to market, then not necessarily. We don't know what Valve's design requirements are and how each trade-off is weighted, so the point is moot.


I mean like come on, you seriously want a dual-core for a gaming box? Let them have a bit more computing room! This is not 2005 for god's sake

Every other closed console manufacturer on the market is doing more of the same: inject dedicated hardware with steroids (on DRM lockdown and ridiculous failure rates to boot) and hope that easily amused consumers are sufficiently distracted by pretty eye candy to actually care about why they're playing the game to begin with, viz. to have fun. Although I don't personally play video games, here's to hoping Valve promotes genuine user experience over another faux pas gimmick.


Even ARM is moving on to 2nd gen quad cores already so why not a quad-core?

To name a few, because...
1.) blatant "monkey see, monkey do" isn't exactly considered a golden virtue (outside of China, that is);
2.) max TDP is proportional to the number of cores, working against a dedicated small form-factor console;
3.) price point is proportional to the number of cores, making entry into a competitive, highly elastic and volatile market that much more difficult.


Considering a dual-core usually is relegated to the not so much of computational efficient per watt but efficient per dollar

What's to say efficiency per dollar isn't more important than computational efficiency per watt in a market with an expected low obsolescence life cycle? Did we not learn anything from Sony's initial PS3 release?
« Last Edit: December 12, 2012, 07:05:16 am by slateraptor »
 

Offline peter.mitchell

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2012, 10:31:01 am »
Did we not learn anything from Sony's initial PS3 release?

Don't launch a year late with less features and a higher price than initially promoted while the competition has been selling their product for the past year and a bit?
 

Offline T4P

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2012, 08:00:42 pm »
Seriously aye, you can get quad-cores and a great GPU (not a useless HD2500 they stuff in the i3 cores which the a10-5800k goes against in the same price bracket) for 65W TDP (A10-5700k like i've just said) nowadays very cheaply
You don't need to resort to dual-cores because the only reason AMD bins the dual-cores is the really low-grade ones, like seriously there's only 2 lines of dual-cores ( at least within trinity), A4-5300 and A6-5400k that have significantly drastic performance cut in the same power envelope (65W) albeit a fair bit cheaper
So what's the price difference between a A6-5400K and a A8-5500 then?
30$. That's the difference and you get a degraded GPU in the A6
 

Offline slateraptor

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Re: Valve + Hardware Engineers = ???
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2012, 07:55:04 am »
So what's the price difference between a A6-5400K and a A8-5500 then?
30$. That's the difference and you get a degraded GPU in the A6

And what does a $30 difference translate to when your sales goal is on the order of 1-million units? A prospective loss that approaches $30-million if poor economic flow/lack of innovation/whatever-loser-MBA-excuse-you-can-think of wins over and sales goals aren't met. Even if we're generous and slash the cost by 1/2 to adjust for bulk purchase, we're still talking about a loss that's several times more than the tax-free lifetime earnings that you're likely to make. And in 18 months, which is still with the device's reasonable life cycle, that processor becomes de facto obsolete--largely as a consequence of consumer ignorance--and your company, your employees, and ultimate you are sucking hind tit. In other words, typical consumer mentality doesn't live long in a cut-throat industry like gaming without a truly innovative approach.
 


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