Look out Xbox, PS4, and Wii! The first of Valve's SteamOS Linux-powered gaming system prototypes will soon be in a few lucky users hands. Then, in 2014, multiple vendors will be selling Steam Machine PCs and gaming consoles.
In particular, Smith continued, "NVIDIA engineers embedded at Valve collaborated on improving driver performance for OpenGL; optimizing performance on NVIDIA GPUs; helping to port Valve’s award-winning content library to SteamOS (PDF link); and tuning SteamOS to lower latency, or lag, between the controller and onscreen action."
If you don't want to wait for a small chance at a beta system, Valve also has just stated that you'll soon be able to download SteamOS and its source code. Yes, that means SteamOS is going to be a full Linux and the programmers among you will be able to tweak SteamOS to work just the way you want it to.
Once SteamOS is released, Valve assures users that they'll be able to build their own Steam Machines. Further, Valve stated that hackers will be able to install their own operating system, change the hardware, and install additional software on the forthcoming Steam Machines. In other words, Valve CEO Gabe Newell, who proclaimed that "Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space" in part of its move to more closed systems, really does seem to want SteamOS to be truly open source and for Steam Machines to be really open systems not locked down by Secure Boot.
As for game play, Valve has stated that there are nearly 3,000 games on Steam. Hundreds are already running natively on "SteamOS, with more to come. The rest will work seamlessly via in-home streaming."
To use the Steam Machines in a living room you will be able to use a keyboard and mouse, but the devices will also work well with gamepads. It also sounds like Valve may have its own plans for a gaming controller. The company concluded its Steam Machines announcement with, " we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input."