by Anton Shilov
01/09/2014 | 11:10 PM
In a bid to reduce the number of hardware-related issues with Steam Machines that were last quarter sent to beta testers, Valve Software chose to reduce support of hardware by SteamOS operating system. However, as PC makers are getting ready to enter the market with their Steam Machines, support of hardware has to be brought back, which is exactly what the company did on Thursday.
The beta Steam Machines only supported microprocessors designed by Intel Corp. and select graphics processing units developed by Nvidia Corp. With the new “alchemist” update for SteamOS, Valve added support for AMD microprocessors and AMD Radeon graphics processors (Radeon HD 5000-series and newer) as well as enabled operation of Intel integrated graphics engines. Existing SteamOS installs should update themselves automatically.
Based on specifications of first-generation Steam Machines released earlier this week, it is obvious that the vast majority of PCs will use Intel microprocessors and the higher share of systems will utilize Nvidia GeForce graphics solutions. The reasons behind hardware choice are not completely clear. While it is apparent that Intel’s Core microprocessors are faster than AMD’s offerings in games, AMD Radeon and Nvidia GeForce demonstrate comparable performance on equally-priced graphics cards. Perhaps, AMD’s Linux drivers are still not as good as Nvidia’s?
Valve’s SteamOS is a Linux-based operating system developed with video games and entertainment in mind. In SteamOS, Valve claims it has achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing and is now working on audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level.
Running on any personal computer in a living room, SteamOS will provide access to games and user-generated content available on Steam distribution service. SteamOS-based PCs can stream video games over a home network straight to a TV. Family sharing allows gamers to take turns playing one another’s games while earning own Steam achievements and saving individual game progress to the Steam cloud. Eventually, SteamOS will also gain compatibility with music, TV and video distribution services.
SteamOS will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines. SteamOS is pre-installed on Steam Machines gaming PCs available from different PC makers.