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Sun, July 18 2004 7:00 AM
Suggested Modems for use with Texas CommunicationsIf you have any questions or problems or need assistance, you may contact our technical support staff at the numbers listed on your Startup Kit or on our contact page. We highly recommend hardware modems for use with our system. A Lucent or Agere software modem is good as long as your computer is fast enough. Most software or "winmodems" will work but the vast majority will not perform nearly as well as the hardware variety. The following modems have been tested personally by us.
These are in the order of what we found to be the best price/performance for internet connectivity. If you want other functions such as voice or speakerphone capabilities look closely to make sure the modem you choose has those functions. We suggest buying them from a local computer shop. If they are not abvailable there, you might try an online resource like Pricewatch.
Differences in types of modems
There are many differences between the different types and brands of modems in relation to cost, performance, and reliability. These differences can be summerized as follows:
Ideal expectations for winmodems
Microsoft has a page dedicated to what software modem and pc makers should ideally shoot for in the design of these devices. Most don't meet these. It should serve as a pretty good wake up call for those wanting one. Some excerpts are below. Find the full text version here. The jist of the whole document is that the only redeeming value of software modems is cost, and even that in many cases isn't realized when considering the additional CPU power that must be available for these modems to work.
"First, the early implementations have been fragile: connections not being made, connections being dropped, and memory leaks were all common problems. The newest CPUs have enough surplus CPU bandwidth; but legacy PC designs do not and are therefore slower. PCI 2.2 is not widely implemented yet, so hungry graphics card drivers can use up bus bandwidth and hold off modem drivers long enough to lose data. Some soft modem implementations hold off other drivers too long from interrupts or from thread execution; many of these soft modems are also vulnerable to similar behavior by other drivers such as soft DVD and soft audio drivers."
"Peak CPU usage should not exceed 50 percent in data transmission nor 75 percent in (re)training."
"These numbers apply to the minimum CPU specified in PC 99, which is a 300 MHz processor. If a driver that meets these guidelines is run on a slower processor, the driver performance could be so bad that the rest of the system might not run at all. Also, a CPU that has aggressive power management or thermal management might run slower. In such a system, the same performance problems would be compounded. A good rule of thumb would be to use these design guidelines for any slower processor."
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