A start-up founded by former senior engineering executives from Intel who helped develop MMX technology announced today that it will ship a software modem later this month.
SmartLink, with U.S. headquarters in San Ramon, California, says its chipless software modem called Modio taps the unused processing power of host CPUs and takes advantage of PC sound systems to provide modem, fax, and telephony capabilities for home users, small offices, and mobile computers.
Several other vendors in recent months have announced software modems, but they require some type of hardware such as an extra chip or special memory. Modio needs no such hardware, which could make it an even more cost-effective solution than standard modems built with dedicated chips.
The software modem is able to function as a modem using the leftover processing capacity of CPUs, which is underused in many applications, including word processing or Web browsing. It also relies on PC audio systems and PCI buses as the interface between host modems and a user's phone.
SmartLink will sell Modio initially to chip and PC makers. Analog Devices, based in Norwood, Massachusetts, will include the software modem in its AD1820 chip, which also ships next month. The chip supports both 16-bit sound and fax and telephony applications in addition to the V.34 modem standard for 28.8-kbps modem access.
"Manufacturers can forget about extra hardware and bus interfaces with Modio," SmartLink's head of U.S. operations Peter Tsepeleff said in a statement. "They will save on motherboard real estate, weight, and power requirements--especially important for portable PCs--by eliminating the hardware modem.
Modio works with systems running at speeds as low as 75 MHz, compared with 150 MHz for other software modem products, SmartLink said. It can be upgraded to upcoming standards as well, including 56-kbps speeds and DSVD (digital simultaneous voice and data), the company added.