A Variety of NVIDIA GPUs Power Valve’s First Prototype Steam Machines

by Brian Burke

Valve revealed the specs for the first prototype Steam Machines to be distributed to 300 gamers for testing and feedback. NVIDIA and Valve have been working together on the upcoming SteamOS and Steam Machine prototypes for some time now, and we’re delighted to have the NVIDIA GeForce GTX series featured in the Steam Machine prototypes shipping later this year.

For more on this project, we sat down with Mike Sartain, a member of the Linux team at Valve, to talk Steam Machines and the decision to include GTX products.

Q. How did NVIDIA and Valve begin working on the SteamOS and Steam Machine projects?
Mike Sartain: NVIDIA and Valve have been working together for over a decade and engineers from both companies are in constant communication. When the SteamOS and Steam Machine projects first got going at Valve, everyone from NVIDIA showed a ton of excitement and wanted to get involved. It was a very collaborative effort as folks just started tackling issues such as driver support, porting NVIDIA’s content library, and more.

Q. Why is everyone so excited?
Sartain: Everyone at Valve and NVIDIA believe the SteamOS open ecosystem is a very important move for gaming. It has the potential to redefine the living room experience. Also, both companies are very interested in collecting gamer feedback during pre-production, including them in the design process. It’s a chance to innovate in a way that doesn’t come along too often.

Q. What were some of the goals and requirements for the first Steam Machine prototypes?
Sartain: At this phase, we are very much interested in the real-world testing of different configurations with gamers. Their feedback will have a significant impact in shaping further development of these devices and the functionality of the SteamOS. As such, we wanted to test a variety of Steam Machines that explore a range of price performance. NVIDIA has done a ton of work to optimize its GTX GPU series on Linux. That work applies across the GTX product line, which provides a complementary set of GPUs for our desired range of prototype Machines.

Q. What can those lucky 300 people expect when they receive their Steam Machine prototype later this year?
Sartain: The GeForce GTX series delivers the graphics performance, acoustic characteristics, and power efficiency we wanted for the first impression of the SteamOS living room game experience. So, even though they are helping us test these devices, their experience should begin with superior performance and amazing visuals directly on their big screen TV the first day they have it.

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  • TheCubicGamer

    This is pretty exciting.

  • Cheesek

    I have steam account over 10 yrs age! start form CS game.

  • yuumei

    ctrl+f “open source drivers”. No hits. Close page.

  • Ridwan Mulyadi

    Except that this was the hit for everyone else..

  • M1kkko

    How about finally some PROPER sli support and 3DTV support for Linux?

  • Hagbard Celine

    How did you wrote this comment after closing the page?

  • http://www.facebook.com/danny.danny.3158 Danny Albert

    This is good, but…
    Why are you not releasing the documentation for your GPUs ?
    And why you are not making your driver open source ? What are you hiding?

  • Vitor Gatti

    I’m looking forward better drivers for Linux, with better Optimus support!

  • Frank Kaufmann

    You can buy a Steam Machine, load nouveau and play SuperTuxKart if you want.

  • madjr

    Best impression? how about fixing Kepler issues (screen tearing / 2d performance) on linux / steamOS: 


    the open source driver don’t have the issue, but the closed drivers do…

    I hope Nvidia doesn’t slack behind like Ati with their drivers. Drivers/support is the main reason people chose Nvidia, so without that …

  • Sabun

    I’m looking forward to what you can provide us Linux gamers in the future! Thanks to your good Linux driver support, I made the choice to buy a  GTX 680. Make no mistake, your support of Linux will bring you customers. Me being one of them.

  • XingHua31

    Well I’ve always loved the fact that Nvidia’s Linux drivers don’t suck unlike AMD’s. I hope they continue to be as good as they currently are!

  • http://www.facebook.com/harrald.portier Harrald Portier

     While some complaints are certainly valid  (e.g. optimus, blob), currently nvidia delivers by far the most feature complete, stable and high performance graphics drivers you can get for linux.
    So … Thanks nvidia! keep up the good work!
    Letting the PC and Consoles Converge with Linux as THE OS is definitly the biggest Linux News of 2013.

    So Valve and NVIDIA, now its time to get some quality games ported to linux! 
    ROCK ON!

  • Brian_Caulfield

    Noted. Will pass along your feedback.

  • Brian_Caulfield

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • cri8tive08

    are ya giving them away if so i am in it

  • Nils Sabelström

    I think a better question is why are they hiding the code.. while some of it might be the will of nVidia, I guess most is to blame on partners. If I have my fact straight one example is that to be able to put a “certified for windows” sticker on a product box, “the inner workings” of the card must be kept confidential “for security reasons”. I would very much like it if nVidia would make a statement for which companies’ interests are being kept by not releasing documentation. And it will also be interesting to see if nVidias motives to protect those interests gradually go away if gaming on windows is decreased in favour to gaming on SteamOS boxes.

  • Supersaiyan_IV

    Since Steam Machines will have Intel/Nvidia GPUs will nvidia-prime be made more automatic? Or will dedicated GPU be called manually by Steam’s Big Picture?

    Also, I hope uni students studying Embedded Systems or Graphics will get chosen as beta testers. This will be the best gaming platform to date!

  • http://vishwaje.com/ vishwaje

    There are many problems with updating nVidia drivers. I think it’s best if they can open their driver or integrate it (some way) to Linux kernel. We need best performance right. So, integrate things to the core of Linux.

  • madjr

    Am sure, intel and amd/ati also have partners interests, etc. but they’re keeping things far more open.

    however am glad they started working some with the open Nouveau drivers guys. and Also working on implementing EGL and stuff

  • Nils Sabelström

    That’s true, but companies decide their policies based on such factors themselves, and it would be nice to know what factor/interest they motivate their decisions on. No doubt it would be nice if they went as open as intel.

    Yeah, the mail on the noveu mailing list was a nice surprice, even though there were already obstacles just a few mails later, with the parts mostly needed seemed like it would be an impossible or at least very hard request. And EGL in the binary driver, made my day 🙂

  • Dany Rioux

    Yeah, whatever.  Steam has had its 10th birthday less than a month ago.

  • Krzysztof

    Yeah. 300 lucky people. Only in USA or in Europe?

  • Sarkie

    Currently on an ATI Card and is awful, the way NVIDIA have handled their Linux Blob, yes it isn’t Open Source but seems to perform well and with Valve, my next card is going back to NVIDIA. Hopefully the unified architecture driver is the same for Linux so it is a smooth transition for when I replace.

  • rapid prototiping

    wow, awesome article post.Thanks Again. Really Great.