Valve is making a Switch-like portable gaming PC

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polonyc2

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Video game and hardware studio Valve has been secretly building a Switch-like portable PC designed to run a large number of games on the Steam PC platform via Linux—and it could launch, supply chain willing, by year's end

multiple sources familiar with the matter have confirmed that the hardware has been in development for some time, and this week, Valve itself pointed to the device by slipping new hardware-related code into the latest version of Steam...

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/05/exclusive-valve-is-making-a-switch-like-portable-gaming-pc/
 

Lakados

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To be fair, Half-Life Alyx came out fairly recently, and they did patch Portal 2 for Vulkan.
Yes sort of, what they did was make improvements to their inhouse tools and they used Portal 2 as the testbed for many of those improvements, by the same measure the new tools and subsequent updates to DOTA 2 have supposedly added a number of issues with DX11 that players arent exactly thrilled with. But generating new content is risky and expensive, reselling other people's content is just a method to print money.

Edit:
Additional:
Supposedly it is just an implementation of DXVK, https://github.com/doitsujin/dxvk
 

sharknice

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How sure are they about this? I don't really see any source information in that article.

From what I've heard it's more likely it's a stand alone VR headset. I suppose Valve could be doing both, but that article is so extremely scarce on details. I could easily see them getting information like it's a stand alone device and has a screen then jumping to that conclusion.

As seen in this video that just came out, and seems to have a lot more information:
relevant information starts at 3 minutes
 

Lakados

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How sure are they about this? I don't really see any source information in that article.

From what I've heard it's more likely it's a stand alone VR headset. I suppose Valve could be doing both, but that article is so extremely scarce on details. I could easily see them getting information like it's a stand alone device and has a screen then jumping to that conclusion.

As seen in this video that just came out, and seems to have a lot more information:
relevant information starts at 3 minutes
That sounds more plausible, FB is killing it with the Quest 2, and the source 2 engine has a lot of cool things it can do in VR but nobody is using it. Valve wants its own Fortnight and its own platform to sell it on and at this stage, it is likely its "cheapest" option.
 

Sycraft

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...and I expect like all the rest of the Steam hardware Valve will assume that is should just work magically and require no support, get bored of it, and stop working on it.
 

Lakados

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...and I expect like all the rest of the Steam hardware Valve will assume that is should just work magically and require no support, get bored of it, and stop working on it.
Support is expensive, much cheaper and easier to let the fan base take care of that on their own under the guise of being advanced users who are trying to prove that something can be done.
 

cybereality

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Lots of sites are saying it's a Switch-like Linux handheld. It still might be. But Valve's recent investments seem to be in VR so I could see a portable VR headset as well.
 

cybereality

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I saw that thing, but they are expensive. Like over $1,000.

If it was like $400 or $500 I would jump on it, but for over a grand I just don't think I would use it enough to justify the cost.
 

THRESHIN

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So you're saying that valve has been doing something other than hookers and blow? I'm shocked!

But I suppose hookers are more difficult to obtain during a pandemic.
 

DPI

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I just need to know the hashrate of the ValveSwitch. Even 15MH/s and we can stack them floor to ceiling.

It's not even about mining with them, but keeping them out of the greasy hands of gamers. Like keeping knives out of the hands of children, that aren't holding them yet but might. Never know what trouble children will get into.
 

DukenukemX

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This shouldn't shock anyone as Valve has been pumping a lot of effort into Linux. They're responsible for things like DXVK and VKD3D. They created ACO for AMD open source drivers and the Vulkan drivers for Intel GPU's. They forked Wine and created Proton. There's a lot more stuff that Valve contributed to Linux, and you think they did this out of the goodness of their heart? Obviously the Steam machines was going to come back, at a much better state than before. The original Steam machines was released in a state that Linux gaming clearly wasn't ready. To be fair it still isn't now, but who knows what tricks Valve has left?
 

MavericK

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I saw that thing, but they are expensive. Like over $1,000.

If it was like $400 or $500 I would jump on it, but for over a grand I just don't think I would use it enough to justify the cost.
I'm not sure I would expect this thing to be much less if it has the power to run modern games.
 

cybereality

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I'm not sure I would expect this thing to be much less if it has the power to run modern games.
Right. I don't think it's going to be cheap. Especially considering how much the Index costs, I don't think Valve would shy away from making it an expensive powerhouse.
 

Brackle

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It is going to have to be some sort of SOC from AMD or Intel. Hopefully its AMD, because I am not even sure how good that Intel Xe graphics is going to be.....

Interesting times ahead.
 

Lakados

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It is going to have to be some sort of SOC from AMD or Intel. Hopefully its AMD, because I am not even sure how good that Intel Xe graphics is going to be.....

Interesting times ahead.
The few reviews out so far have the Xe stuff is destroying the 4000U series. Mobile is a closer race than desktop where AMD is clearly in a comfortable lead.
 

Flogger23m

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Will be a flop unless it is a proper console. Even if it is, will probably flop anyways. Nintendo has the mobile console market down for all the right reasons that translate into sales.

This will probably end up as another passion project for Newell.
 

ChadD

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This shouldn't shock anyone as Valve has been pumping a lot of effort into Linux. They're responsible for things like DXVK and VKD3D. They created ACO for AMD open source drivers and the Vulkan drivers for Intel GPU's. They forked Wine and created Proton. There's a lot more stuff that Valve contributed to Linux, and you think they did this out of the goodness of their heart? Obviously the Steam machines was going to come back, at a much better state than before. The original Steam machines was released in a state that Linux gaming clearly wasn't ready. To be fair it still isn't now, but who knows what tricks Valve has left?

Well the real trick will be getting developer buy in.

Linux is completely ready to handle things... IF developers where on board. As it is now users can get 90% of windows games running on Linux... and 3/4 of those actually run really well. There are a handful of indie developers that publish on both Linux and Windows and things are smooth. Valve tried to get publishers to make their own Proton / DXVK profiles... but so far few have done so. If Valve can get buy in from one or two of the big publishers... all they really have to do at this point is work with valve to polish an official proton profile and things are there.

I don't know if some handheld thing gets them that buy in... but who knows. Its not much different from supporting a console at that point. I mean a ton of publishers adapt their games for PS5 and their BSD running sony APIed up platform. It seems to me taking a PC title and doing the very minimal work required to ensure it runs well on Linux steam is actually far less work should steam have a platform that actual moves units.
 

1_rick

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It is going to have to be some sort of SOC from AMD or Intel. Hopefully its AMD, because I am not even sure how good that Intel Xe graphics is going to be.....

Interesting times ahead.
Watch the Linus video above if you want to know. Short answer is "pretty good for iGPU, nowhere close to dGPU".
 

Brackle

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Watch the Linus video above if you want to know. Short answer is "pretty good for iGPU, nowhere close to dGPU".
They could easily make a XBOX/PS5 CPU/GPU SOC variant to fix that issue.

The video above is just a normal APU.
 

ChadD

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They could easily make a XBOX/PS5 CPU/GPU SOC variant to fix that issue.

The video above is just a normal APU.

I'm not sure a Current console chip would work out very well in a handheld form factor. Those still need a lot of active cooling.

The handheld form factor only makes sense if Valve thinks they can grab developer support. Nintendo has had success with the switch by not trying to build AAA graphic hardware required software. iGPUs are actually quite capable of powering Nintendo type games... if Valve thinks they can position the source engine to power good enough graphics games, iGPU is all they need anyway.

If they wanted to run the Cyberpunks ect on Steam hardware they are going to have to build a console... a steam machines 2 and compete directly with Microsoft and Sony. I don't think they really want to engage in that fight.
 

Brackle

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I'm not sure a Current console chip would work out very well in a handheld form factor. Those still need a lot of active cooling.

The handheld form factor only makes sense if Valve thinks they can grab developer support. Nintendo has had success with the switch by not trying to build AAA graphic hardware required software. iGPUs are actually quite capable of powering Nintendo type games... if Valve thinks they can position the source engine to power good enough to build good games on iGPU is all they need anyway.

If they wanted to run the Cyberpunks ect on Steam hardware they are going to have to build a console... a steam machines 2 and compete directly with Microsoft and Sony. I don't think they really want to engage in that fight.

I absolutely agree, the thing is though they really don't need developer support since the games are already on Steam, and a lot of them support Linux.

All Valve will need to do is make this handheld console run the Steam desktop, log into your account and boom....all your games library shows up.

Now the hardware is a whole other thing they need to figure out. But, It can be done imo. Look at the Xbox S (Max 80-85w). It can run all of the Xbox X games at a lower resolution with a lower power draw. I think it is possible to get console gaming at 1080p60hz on a handheld with the right SOC created for Valve.

Also to note, they could also what Nintendo does. Make the handheld run faster when its docked and plugged in, then when you remove it you lower the cpu/gpu speeds etc etc.
 

ChadD

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I absolutely agree, the thing is though they really don't need developer support since the games are already on Steam, and a lot of them support Linux.

All Valve will need to do is make this handheld console run the Steam desktop, log into your account and boom....all your games library shows up.

Now the hardware is a whole other thing they need to figure out. But, It can be done imo. Look at the Xbox S (Max 80-85w). It can run all of the Xbox X games at a lower resolution with a lower power draw. I think it is possible to get console gaming at 1080p60hz on a handheld with the right SOC created for Valve.

Also to note, they could also what Nintendo does. Make the handheld run faster when its docked and plugged in, then when you remove it you lower the cpu/gpu speeds etc etc.

That is basically what they tried to do with the steam machines. Software support is much further along now for sure. As a Linux user yes Valve has come along way with Proton and DXVK ect since steam machine days. Also the biggest problem with steam machines is they where PCs... people expected them to do more then play 40% of their steam library. :) With a handheld expectations would be lower.... if they build a few tablet style apps and include a decent web browser experience, they easily check the tablet box. Expectations would be much different which might help the product take off as well.

As for the chip... I'm not sure they need to custom anything really. If they can slap a current or next gen AMD laptop chip in there they are basically golden. Valve is good at toying around with things... but ordering up a custom chip ? That seems like a lot of cash outlay which I doubt they are willing to do. Perhaps for a second gen version though if the first is a home run.
 

vegeta535

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It is going to go no where like the steam systems they released a few years ago. The hand held market is niche. Not many parents will buy this for their kids over a switch. This will not be cheap.
 

DukenukemX

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The few reviews out so far have the Xe stuff is destroying the 4000U series. Mobile is a closer race than desktop where AMD is clearly in a comfortable lead.
If only AMD would stop using their 5 year old Vega graphics for their APU's.

Linux is completely ready to handle things... IF developers where on board. As it is now users can get 90% of windows games running on Linux... and 3/4 of those actually run really well. There are a handful of indie developers that publish on both Linux and Windows and things are smooth.
Proton should be a band-aid fix for what should be more native Linux ports. It certainly works but my problem is that it isn't available outside of Steam. I know this might be shocking for Valve but there are games that people play on PC that aren't on Steam. If you want people to use Linux then you need to accommodate other games from competing stores. I'm happy that most Indie games that I own are ported to Linux, and I would like to see more native Linux ports. It's less of a headache for me.
 

DukenukemX

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I'm not sure a Current console chip would work out very well in a handheld form factor. Those still need a lot of active cooling.
Do what Nintendo did and reduce the clock speeds. How many portable Tegra X1's do you see?
The handheld form factor only makes sense if Valve thinks they can grab developer support. Nintendo has had success with the switch by not trying to build AAA graphic hardware required software. iGPUs are actually quite capable of powering Nintendo type games... if Valve thinks they can position the source engine to power good enough graphics games, iGPU is all they need anyway.
I doubt Valve is looking for developer support. The idea here is if Valve builds it then they come. If enough people are using their Linux hand held console then developers would be encouraged to create Linux ports. Things like DXVK, VKD3D, and Proton don't exactly give zero performance penalties for using them. Valve wants native ports.
If they wanted to run the Cyberpunks ect on Steam hardware they are going to have to build a console... a steam machines 2 and compete directly with Microsoft and Sony. I don't think they really want to engage in that fight.
I think they do and I think they want to avoid going full on console. Valve's mistake is they didn't make their own hardware, and let everyone else make the hardware. That was a huge mistake since everyone else charged a lot of money and gave people the option to install Windows, so of course a lot of people installed Windows. If Valve makes the device then things would work out much better.
 

Lakados

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If only AMD would stop using their 5 year old Vega graphics for their APU's.
I have to suspect that there is a technical reason for them not using their RDNA2 stuff as an onboard. I don’t know what it is but their entire product stack is devoid of it. It has to be for a reason, because pairing them together would seem to be an obvious win.
 

ChadD

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If only AMD would stop using their 5 year old Vega graphics for their APU's.

Proton should be a band-aid fix for what should be more native Linux ports. It certainly works but my problem is that it isn't available outside of Steam. I know this might be shocking for Valve but there are games that people play on PC that aren't on Steam. If you want people to use Linux then you need to accommodate other games from competing stores. I'm happy that most Indie games that I own are ported to Linux, and I would like to see more native Linux ports. It's less of a headache for me.
Well Valve does publish proton... you can install proton yourself just like wine (its a fork) and install DXVK yourself and run it with proton or wine, without running steam at all. (many Linux gamers use Lutris to make things a bit easier as they publish known to work profiles for games that install specific versions of proton or wine ect. I have mostly just run the latest beta version of wine with DXVK and find most stuff works reasonably well)

Also you can actually install third party software in the steam linux client and run it with proton.

Of course it would be nice if all the big AAA started doing their own Linux ports... I do understand why they are not right now. If steam does manage to move hardware I do believe proton would be the bandaid. Its a pretty solid bandaid right now... and if Valve can at least get the big developers to help them polish proton profiles it will be smooth. But long term moving everything to native would be the best option. I have faith it will happen... lots of agnostic changes coming to computing over the next few years with ARM moving in on x86 as well. The newer game engines are very good at compiling out to different OSes and now even CPU archs.
 

cybereality

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Honestly Proton works well. I've even seen better performance on Linux for a few Windows games, there is very little overhead.

I think for the time being, just having developers test on Proton and provide custom profiles would go a long way and is not asking too much from developers.

Though games in Unity/Unreal could be easily ported to Linux, for companies with custom engines it is a decent amount of work and not good ROI with the size of the Linux gaming market today.
 

Brackle

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I have to suspect that there is a technical reason for them not using their RDNA2 stuff as an onboard. I don’t know what it is but their entire product stack is devoid of it. It has to be for a reason, because pairing them together would seem to be an obvious win.
AMD have already done a custom CPU/GPU with RDNA2. It is called the Xbox X and PS5...
 

ChadD

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Honestly Proton works well. I've even seen better performance on Linux for a few Windows games, there is very little overhead.

I think for the time being, just having developers test on Proton and provide custom profiles would go a long way and is not asking too much from developers.

Though games in Unity/Unreal could be easily ported to Linux, for companies with custom engines it is a decent amount of work and not good ROI with the size of the Linux gaming market today.

Depends on the engine. Keep in mind most of these custom engines... also already have the ground work laid. All the big AAA games launch on Sonys BSD freebsd fork. I would say many of the custom engines that end up on consoles could very easily be ported as well. Perhaps not as easily as Unity or Unreal but without to much headache I am sure adapting the BSD PS4/5 path would be pretty trivial.
 
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