In between all the console announcements at E3 2014 (more on the “console” part later today), there was a short teaser trailer released by a company called Steamboy Machine, based in Spain. The trailer teases some of the design details of what looks like a mixture of the Steam controller, a Sony PS Vita and the nibbed rear of the Nvidia Shield. They call it the Steamboy and although it’s still a concept, Steamboy Machine has said that it will be a thing in 2015. Details after the jump.
Escapist Magazine managed to get one of the company reps to talk to them about the device and they were able to learn some interesting things about it. Steamboy is catered to mobile gamers who want to play their Steam library on the go and like the original Vita, there will be Wi-Fi and 3G/HSPA (possibly LTE) radios in there as well. The device is slated for a 2015 release, but will probably fall into Q2 or Q3 2015 to make use of E3 2015 to promote the device more.
“SteamBoy won’t be as powerful as other announced Steam Machines in the same way that Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita performance is not comparable to Wii U or PlayStation 4,” a representative wrote via email to Escapist Magazine. “However, it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam.”
“SteamBoy is the first device that allows to play Steam games on the go. You will keep playing your favorite games at the bus, the office, the school or the doctor’s waiting room.”
Other details were thin on the ground, but the device will have a 5-inch 16:9 aspect ratio display with touch capability, a quad-core CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of built-in flash storage. No details were given about the battery pack, what hardware vendor is being used or what operating system is going to be pre-loaded, although it’s very likely that it’s going to be SteamOS.
There are two touchpads, – possibly with haptic feedback – eight action buttons, four triggers and two buttons on the rear of the console, just like the regular Steam controller.
The questions of the hardware inside still linger, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s one of two options already available to OEMs:
- Nvidia’s Tegra K1, with four ARM Cortex-A15 cores, Kepler-based graphics comprising of 192 stream processors
- AMD Temash A6-1450, with four x86-64 Jaguar cores and GCN graphics comprising of 128 stream processors
At this point, Intel’s Bay Trail isn’t very capable of driving 3D games properly at any resolution approaching HD, so it’s out for now. Tegra K1 is a likely candidate because of the work going on with porting games made by Valve to the Nvidia Shield. That, and Nvidia’s Gameworks software suite also works on Tegra hardware, which makes developing games for mobile devices using Tegra that much easier. But the problem with this is it would be going straight up against Nvidia’s Shield when they refresh it with Tegra K1 hardware, which would allow Nvidia to drop prices much sooner than their partners.
AMD’s Temash silicon is also a possibility. The A6-1450 has a 8W TDP, four Jaguar cores clocked at 1.0GHz (boosting to 1.4GHz for a single core) and 128 GCN stream processors (for a total of four Compute Cores). Although Temash itself is pretty rare and hasn’t seen many design wins, it might be a better candidate over Tegra K1 because the processors are full x86-64 designs, whereas Tegra K1 uses ARM architecture. All you have to do is scale down the game’s visuals or omit the advanced options menus altogether.
Also, Temash silicon is already working and readily available (and has been for over a year), whereas Tegra K1 is still in the early stages of a consumer rollout. One tablet is already on its way for Asian markets, but given Tegra 4’s inability to gain much traction beyond a couple of devices, Tegra K1 will take a while before it gains any significant market share in mobile gaming.