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Hardware vs. Software Modems

Friday, April 21st, 2006 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms

What is the difference between a hardware modem and a software modem?

The two types of modems do have many differences and it’s a good idea to know which kind you have in your computer.

Hardware modems are usually external and they connect to your computer through what is called a serial port and then, of course, a phone jack. Everything that the modem needs to work is already contained inside, which includes a controller and a datapump.

The controller helps with error corrections, compression and flow control while the datapump handles the analog to digital functions through a digital signal processor (DSP). All of these parts work together inside of the modem to connect to your computer to give you Internet access.

Software modems are commonly known as WinModems. This means that software modems usually do not handle all of the functions of a regular modem, but rather they depend on an operating system driver to help with the work. Some also have a controller and a datapump.

The controller on a software modem is not handled directly by the actual modem. Most of the work is piled onto the computer’s main processor. On the other hand, the datapump works inside the modem with the help of a DSP.

There are two types of software modems. The first works with a digital signal processor, which helps lower the direct impact on a system’s resources (such as the CPU, RAM, etc). The second type is called a soft or an HSP modem (Host Signal Processing). This type is the one that loads all of the work onto the main CPU of a computer and functions through that. With this type not having a DSP, the CPU has to take care of all the responsibility of running programs.

There are other types of modems available, but hardware and software modems are the most common for most computers.

~ Erin

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