Steam Deck about to debut: an overview

Overview of the upcoming handheld gaming computer developed by Valve Corporation in cooperation with AMD.

Steam Deck

Steam Deck, the powerful portable gaming computer that delivers Steam games, will begin its expeditions in February.

Steam partnered with AMD to create the customized Steam Deck APU, optimised for portable games. An APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) is a computer processing system for heterogeneous computing, which includes additional processing capabilities, designed to accelerate one or more types of calculations outside the CPU component. Such a system may include a graphics processing unit (GPU) used for general computing (GPGPU), a field-programmable gate array, or similar specialized processing systems.

It is a Zen 2 + RDNA 2 engine, offering more than enough performance to perform the latest AAA games in a highly efficient power envelope. “Triple-A” games has become a popular phrase in the world of gaming, but its meaning may be confusing. “Triple-A” or “AAA” is by no means a formal ranking of the games. The terms usually refer to games that boast a great budget for production and marketing. For this reason, they are expected to be of high quality and sell in a substantial number of copies, typically in the millions. AAA is the equivalent of the “blockbuster” gaming industry which is used for the same product category in the film industry.

Steam Deck hardware

  • Touchscreen. Steam UI counts on a 7″ touchscreen with capacitive multi-touch.
  • Gyro. With an IMU and capacitive touchsticks onboard, the Deck allows you to aim better. An inertial measurement unit (IMU) is an electronic device that measures and signals the specific force of a body, its angular speed and sometimes its orientation. By physically positioning the device, you can get more precision than just using a trackpad.
  • Storage. Built-in storage: 64GB eMMC, 256GB NVMe SSD, or 512GB NVMe SSD. If you want more space, expand your built-in storage with a microSD card and fill it with even more games. The games stored on a MicroSD card display instantly in your library.
  • Hi-Fi audio. An integrated DSP brings a wide sonic scene for an immersive listening experience. You can connect your favorite headphones or use on-board dual microphones.
  • Battery. The 40 watt-hour battery of Steam Deck provides several hours of gaming time for most games. For lighter use cases like game streaming, small 2D games, or web browsing, you can expect to get the maximum battery life of approximately 7-8 hours.
  • I/O expandable. The single USB-C jack is versatile: used for charging, for peripherals, or even to launch the game on a large screen at the same time.
  • Wireless. WiFi keeps you connected to the world, and Bluetooth enables a wide range of wireless devices – from controllers to headsets, keyboards and mice.

Hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat shows how – and why- they made Deck the way they did.

Steam OS

On Steam Deck, your games run on an operating system other than your desktop computer. This is a new version of SteamOS, built with Steam Deck in mind and powered for a portable gaming experience. It comes with Proton, a compatibility layer that lets you run your games without any porting work necessary for development. For Deck, Proton game compatibility has been improved with the support for anti-cheat solutions working directly with vendors. SteamOS is a Linux-based operating system. The core system uses Debian 8, code called Debian Jessie. Above all, it is an open Linux platform that gives you full control. You can support your system and install new software or content the way you want.

Specs

  • Processor. AMD APU CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32). GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32). APU power: 4-15W
  • RAM. 16 GB LPDDR5 on-board RAM (5500 MT/s quad 32-bit channels)
  • Storage. 64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1). 256 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4). 512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4). All models use socketed 2230 m.2 modules (not intended for end-user replacement). All models include high-speed microSD card slot.
  • Thumbsticks. 2 x full-size analog sticks with capacitive touch.
  • Trackpads. 2 x 32.5mm square trackpads with haptic feedback. 55% better latency compared to Steam Controller. Pressure-sensitivity for configurable click strength.
  • Gyro. 6-Axis IMU.
  • Display. 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio). Optically bonded IPS LCD for enhanced readability. Display size: 7″ diagonal. Brightness: 400 nits typical. Refresh rate: 60 Hz.
  • Bluetooth. Bluetooth 5.0 (support for controllers, accessories and audio)
  • Wi-Fi. Dual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2 x 2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Audio. Stereo with embedded DSP for an immersive listening experience. Dual microphone array.3.5mm stereo headphone / headset jack. Multichannel audio via DisplayPort over USB-C, standard USB-C, or Bluetooth 5.0.
  • Power. Input: 45W USB Type-C PD3.0 power supply. Battery: 40Whr battery. 2 – 8 hours of gameplay.
  • Expansion. MicroSD: UHS-I supports SD, SDXC and SDHC.
  • External connectivity for controllers & displays: USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • Size and Weight: 298mm x 117mm x 49mm. Approx. 669 grams.
  • Software: SteamOS 3.0 (Arch-based) + KDE Plasma.
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