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A software modem is a modem with minimum hardware capability designed to work using a host computer's resources. Softare modems are capable of a majority of tasks performed by a traditional hardware modem, but use the host computer's processor to carry out the signal processing required to modulate and demodulate data signals.
This term is also known as win modem, soft modem and driver based modem.
The first commercially available software modems only worked with Microsoft windows family of operating systems and hence were referred to as win modems. It was also difficult to incorporate modems of this type on other operating systems, due to lack of vendor support and standard device interface.
Software modems generally fall into two categories - the win modems and linmodems. The win modem only works on Windows and linmodems on Linux. Win modems incorporate CPU and DSP of modems into an enhanced fabric of a PC. They are implemented through chipsets, which modem manufacturers solder onto motherboards.
Software modems can also be classified based on communication interface with host computer. These modems cab be integrated in PC cards or MiniPCI for use in a portable computer.