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Issue No. 04 - July/August (1997 vol. 17)
ISSN: 0272-1732
pp: 37-43
Modern 32-bit RISC processors can be used to implement many functions, including signal processing, in software, thus replacing hardware components and thus reducing system cost and complexity. The embedded software market is poised for dramatic growth as engineers and organizations look to third party suppliers of software components to reduce time to market and allow focus on the core competencies that determine key market differentiation for OEMs. The voice and data communications markets, including Internet access, is fuelling this growth. A large and increasing number of products are shipping that offer modem functionality. Until recently, the only way to implement this in an end product was to buy-in a packaged solution containing a microprocessor and DSP element bundled with the necessary software in ROM to function as a modem. Because of the capabilities of modern RISC processors, this same software can be executed cost effectively by the main system CPU. The modem industry is governed by standards that guarantee interoperability, so exactly the same functionality can be had from software running on the system CPU. This results in many advantages over the traditional approach: Reduced Bill of Materials cost for the product, Reduced board space (lower cost), Reduced manufacturing cost, Lower power consumption, Software flexibility enables future upgrades. This article introduces software modem technology and the requirements it places upon CPUs, describes how the Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) RISC architecture is ideally suited to exploit the advantages of software modems, describes the benchmarking results of different software modem technology implemented on different ARM processor architectures and finally discusses some practical issues for the OEM designer wishing to take advantage of software modems.
Embedded systems, software modems, ARM architecture, system cost

D. Walsh, "Reducing System Cost with Software Modems," in IEEE Micro, vol. 17, no. , pp. 37-43, 1997.
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