Xi3's Valve Box Possible Specs and Server Cluster?
1/21/2013 by: Anshel Sag
This year, we stopped by the Xi3 booth at CES and got to talk to David Politis, CMO of Xi3 Corporation. These guys have been in the small form factor business for quite some time, as we've met with them before at CES. In the past, we weren't necessarily impressed with their offerings mainly because they lacked the real graphical and computational horsepower to be considered serious players in the PC market.
Now, with their latest system, the Piston, they are promising a much higher level of performance. Looking at the rumors that the company was partnering up with Valve, indicates that they may be possibly helping Valve manufacture the coveted Valve Box. This Valve Box has been rumored for quite some time, however, we aren't quite sure whether the Valve Box will be one or two devices. We believe it's possible that the Valve Box may actually be both the Xi3 Piston and/or the Nvidia Shield.
Now, looking at the hardware specs of the Xi3 Piston, we can see that this thing has some serious horsepower.
Looking at the back, you've got ethernet, SPDIF, four USB 3.0, four USB 2.0 (with high current), and four eSATA. This is in addition to having three DisplayPort connectors, which would allow this little box to drive up to three displays, which to us screams AMD. So, we asked David, is this an AMD solution? And David said absolutely. In fact, he was able to tell us that the Piston is an AMD APU solution, but not just any AMD APU. He said that the Piston was powered by an AMD Trinity APU.
This actually narrows down the possibilities of exactly which APU it could be. We could be looking at either an A4-3400, A6-5400K, A8-5500 or an A10-5700. Since the device's maximum power is 19V @ 3.3A it's likely that the device will consume about 63W, which puts it in the range of the aforementioned APUs. With something like an A10-5700, the Piston could theoretically be powered by a quad-core CPU coupled with an AMD Radeon HD7660D which has 384 stream processors and clocks at 760 MHz. This would make quite a powerful little console or gaming PC.
We do believe that it is feasible for Valve to launch with Xi3 as a console, but we'd need to hear more about the final specs of such a machine before we could qualify the feasibility of such a platform.
David also took apart one of his A7X systems to show us how the Xi3 systems are build in a modular fashion which enables for inexpensive manufacturing while still being very compact and thermally cool.
Following that, David showed us some of their newest Xi3 server products including a theoretical cluster using a series of Xi3 server machines networked together. This entire compute cluster can be fit into a custom made cart that can essentially be taken anywhere and has thousands of CPU and GPU cores while still being under 1KW in power consumption. This is a unique way of creating microservers, and allows for a fairly custom approach as well.
Well, that wraps up our quick little overview of what Xi3 has to offer for 2013.
Xi3, Piston, Small Form Factor, AMD, APU, CPU, Gaming, Valve, Console, Graphics, USB 3.0, Tiny, Power
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