More Cost Effective and Beneficial than Modem Chipsets

Softmodem or software-based modem architecture has numerous advantages over traditional modem chipsets. Highlighted below are some of the most important benefits that will be realized when adopting a Softmodem solution into your product.

Softmodem — Lower Component Count + Smaller PCB Footprint = Smaller BOM + Smaller Size + Lower Weight + Lower Power Consumption

Softmodems are implemented with digital signal processors (DSP) or microprocessors. A powerful processor can handle multiple tasks concurrently such as running the data-pump of a Softmodem while simultaneously driving other features of the end device. This often eliminates the need for additional hardware components that provide modem functions. Although both Softmodems and modem chipsets require an analog front end (AFE), traditional modem chipsets also require a host processor, which itself may require a separate crystal as its clock, additional external memory, and other discrete electronic components. Additional circuitry will be required between these additional components. A hardware interface will also need to be designed to interface the modem chipset with the host processor. Each of these components takes up space. They each add to the overall weight. They each draw power and emit heat. They each cost additional money. Softmodems do not require such additional components, so, conversely, they provide the obvious advantages of a smaller PCB footprint, smaller size, lower weight, and lower power consumption. Not to mention, software doesn't overheat or break.


Softmodem — Flexibility & Customization

In general, both Softmodems and hardware modem chipsets are designed to be compliant to specific ITU-T standards. But the similarity ends there. Today, there are limitless applications, which require integration of voice, fax, and modem over a wireline or wireless communication channel. The Softmodem both facilitates and economizes the integration of data, fax, and voice-related applications. Customers often have the need to deviate from an industry standard, for example, they may be building a proprietary communications systems that deviates from the standard for security reasons or simple convenience. Alternatively, the customer may require that certain modem design parameters be tweaked specifically to address issues in their own designs. Because the Softmodems is based on software algorithms, custom design changes usually require only changes to the Softmodem source code. Chipsets can't achieve this level of flexibility because changes there require a complete re-work of the hardware, which, in general, is completely unfeasible.

Softmodem — Reduce Costs Significantly Particularly in Applications with High Volume

One common model for purchasing the rights to use a Softmodem is by paying a license fee consisting of an initial payment and per-unit royalties. The license fee will cover the copyright for the developer's intellectual property and any customization and integration assistance that is necessary. The per-channel royalty fee defrays the overall cost of purchase by amortizing the outlay over time and as product is sold. With volume, the complete cost is vastly lower as compared to hardware modem chipsets. Modem chipsets manufacturers normally charge on a per-unit basis. Compared to the Softmodem, and over time, the per-unit cost of the hardware chipset modem is exceedingly high. When producing upwards of 10,000 units of the end device, the cost of a Softmodem implementation will almost always be significantly lower than that of the cost of a hardware chipset modem. The cost difference increases dramatically as the units produced continue to increase.


Softmodem — Easy Upgrades

In a typical application, a Softmodem may be loaded into RAM for execution from, say, flash memory. Updating the algorithms stored in that flash memory may be all that is required for a future upgrade. As in the example above regarding Softmodem flexibility, these types of improvements are beyond the practical capabilities of chipset modem.

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