Over the weekend this rumors already appeared in our forums but the Verge has the story that they're not only working on such hardware, but they plan to make Steam 'the center of an open gaming universe that mirrors what Google has done with Android.'
Valve head Gabe Newell recently told Penny Arcade 'Well, if we have to sell hardware we will' and followed that up with 'We'd rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do [hardware]. We think it's important enough that if that's what we end up having to do, then that's what we end up having to do.' Meaning they might have someone else build the box for them, but the system would run Steam, and if this all turns out to be true, it could change the entire industry.
"Apparently meetings were held during CES to demo a hand-built version of the device to potential partners. We're told that the basic specs of the Steam Box include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. The devices will be able to run any standard PC titles, and will also allow for rival gaming services (like EA's Origin) to be loaded up.
Part of the goal of establishing a baseline for hardware, we're told, is that it will give developers a clear lifecycle for their products, with changes possibly coming every three to four years. Additionally, there won't be a required devkit, and there will be no licensing fees to create software for the platform.
We're hearing that a wide variety of USB peripherals will be compatible with the boxes, though it will likely ship with a proprietary controller. It's possible that the controller will even allow for swappable components, meaning that it can be reconfigured depending on the type of game you're playing. Think that sounds odd? Well Valve filed a patent for such a device last year. "