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|What's My Modem?
(Explanation & Links page)
|This page is designed for those trying to identify an unnamed modem.
|The aim of this section is to use the information-responses given by interrogating the modem to determine at the least the chipset manufacturer & type and therefore a good shot at the manufacturer and upgrade site.
Please be aware that, whilst all modems will give responses to ati commands 1 to 8, with some modems most of these responses will be "OK" - in other words, no information at all, which is a curious response for an information command - but that the name of the manufacturer should be contained within one of the responses. It is also normal for some (not all) of the responses to read "Error".
|Millions of people with brand-new modems are searching across the web trying to find the upgrade site for flash-upgrades & drivers and this may seem a little curious to many people. This is gone into more depth elsewhere, but briefly a new standard for modem communications was ratified in 1998 [called V.90 - a more technical discussion of this is here] and, by a process of trial-and-error, the modem chipset manufacturers are bringing their products into line with this standard.
Some chipset manufacturers are...
|V.90||3Com - now US Robotics|
|V.90||Ambient Technologies - now intel MSO|
|AT&T - chipsets sold to Lucent|
|V.90||Cirrus Logic - now intel MSO|
|V.90||ESS||Thanks to Flavio de Castro Melo for the link.|
|V.90||Hayes||original company now bankrupt|
|V.90||intel Modem Silicon Operation|
|V.90||Lucent Technologies - now Agere Systems|
|V.90||Rockwell - now Conexant|
|Sierra Semiconductor Corporation||28 Aug 96 stopped making modem chipsets|
|V.90||Smart Link||Thanks to Peter Banks for the link.|
|V.90||SGS-Thomson - now STMicroelectronics|
|V.90||Topic - see IC Plus Semiconductor Corp|
|United MicroElectronics Company (UMC)|
...and, with the exception of USR, they supply their chipsets to other OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer] companies that make the actual modems. The line of manufacture can be much longer than this, with unbranded-modems going to other companies that put a name on a box & ship it to distributors, but in it's simplicity that is how it works. It is still possible at the time of writing [May 2000] that the chipset in a modem sat on a shop shelf left the factory before the V.90 standard was even ratified, yet will be emblazoned with 'V90 ready!' on the box - just a slight distortion of the truth, if not actually wrong.
Lists of manufacturers using each chipset above can be found on this site's Index.
The pace of change in telecommunications has matched that in the worlds of electronics, & the modem manufacturers have taken two routes to respond to this change:
|Finding the Manufacturer|
|This page uses the ati responses from the modem to identify the chipset manufacturer, and hopefully the OEM manufacturer, and therefore a suitable website to upgrade from. First, some background about the Hayes command set, & the ati commands in particular, and then the practical steps of using the table:|
|Modem Command Set|
|Modems are programmed by all manufacturers to perform certain actions in response to particular commands sent to them via the computer. Some of these commands are universal to all modems. Examples are
|The i [for information?] command is a universal instruction, but the format of the response is not.
The following is true for most Conexant (formerly Rockwell) chipsets:
|How to find the Manufacturer|
|There are four ways that singly or together may work:|
|1||If a modem is approved for connection to the British telephone system, use the BABT approval number to find the license-holder.|
|2||Use at least the first three digits of the 'Grantee' section of the FCC id. at|
|3||Use the here] to rule these manufacturers in or out of the picture.|
|4||Use the ati responses from the modem to search the table. There are three ways to obtain these:
|List of ati6 Responses||(sometimes ati7)|
|If ati6 matches one of the responses at right, then click on the link
If ati6 does not match the link, then try to find a match from ati3 below.
|RC288DPi||Rockwell ACi/VFC 28.8k [non-flash]|
|RC336DPF||Rockwell ACF 33.6K [non-flash]|
|RCV336DPF||Rockwell ACF 33.6K [non-flash]|
|RCV336DPFSP||Rockwell ACF 33.6K [non-flash]|
|RCV56DPF L8570A||Conexant ACF 56k 1/2 MB ROM|
|RCV56DPF-PLL L8571A||Conexant ACF 56k 2 MB ROM|
|List of ati3 Responses|
|Use this table if ati6 does not match one of those listed above.
Click on the number/letter with which ati3 begins.
eg if ati3 begins "Soft.." then click on "S".
|Understanding Driver Versions|
|It's clear from emails that I receive that many people do not 'get' the idea behind the modem's driver versions (and why should they?), so this little section is a quick primer on the arcane art of software versions.|
I think the mis-understanding arises because people think that they are looking for a modem with the same ati responses as their own, & this is not quite true. Certainly, if ati6, ati3, ati4 & the Identifier are identically the same you have found your modem. However, the first 3 could be different - and possibly even the 4th - and it would still be your modem. What is being looked for, you see, is a modem with similar responses, which is not the same as a modem with the same responses. Now, I know that this is not easy but please don't blame me. After a little experience you may come to the view that - either deliberately or by ommission - a great many manufacturers simply do not let you know who made your modem, & you need to become a sleuth to determine which one you have.
ati4 is supposed to be the OEM identifier, but not all manufacturers follow this format - mine says OK as an example, & the mfc is identified in ati7 - and even if it is followed it may be in binary format, which is not exactly helpful unless you are a Hayes-compatible computer.
ati3 is usually the driver version, & this is what the rest of this little piece will concentrate on.
The key to understanding driver version numbers is that we humans rarely (and software writers never) get things right first time - we clearly have a learning God. It's a process of try, try & try again. Let's take the Conexant/Rockwell HCF chipset as our example. Now, usually drivers are prefixed with V (for version), but of course, this chipset is not. The first version of a driver is usually v1.000, or perhaps Beta 10, but the first I've found is:
The first number (2) is the major version number
The second number (1) is the minor version number
Other numbers (0, 162) are lesser version numbers indicating smaller and less important changes to the software.
|These are the next two drivers that I've found, and suggests that whilst the first is a strong improvement to the previous driver, only very minor differences exist between these two.|
|What is important is to realise that the two above are the same modem, simply with different drivers installed.|
|This is a sample of other drivers for this chipset. All of these can be the same physical modem. It is simply that the software allowing it to work as a modem is different. Even more to the point, if you are having problems connecting, then you need a different driver to the one currently loaded (as long as nothing else is causing connection problems).|
|That's the end of this primer. It may not make you an expert on driver versions, but it may help to shed a little light on the way to find a modem with responses similar - rather than the same - as your own.|