Valve may be planning to enter the gaming hardware industry. A new report suggests that the Half-Life developer is creating a new console, dubbed "Steam Box," that will be unveiled later this year.

Sources tell Verge that this console will have a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. It will support USB peripherals and may ship with a proprietary controller. Valve filed a patent last year for a controller that allows the user to swap components in and out depending on the type of game they're playing. Realtime biometric feedback will be incorporated into the console as well.

The device is said to be able to run "any standard PC" game. Also, interestingly, it won't restrict users to Valve's digital gaming platform Steam. You'll actually be able to use Origin and other competing services.

Perhaps the first hint at Valve's console plans came in February, when they annnounced a "Big Picture" mode for Steam. Big Picture mode will allow players to enjoy their PC/Mac games on the television. Developers don't need to do any additional work to enable their games for "Big Picture" mode if their titles already support controllers.

Valve's goal is to make the console friendly to developers. Verge likens Valve's Steam Box to Google's Android, in that it's an open platform. There will be no licensing fees for creating Steam Box software and no required devkit. Furthermore, the lifecycle for the console will be more clear so that developers can plan their products better. The console may undergo changes every three or four years.

The report says that Valve showed off a prototype of Steam Box to potential partners during CES. They may unveil it publicly at GDC next week. However, it's also possible that they'll wait until E3.

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