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What is Firmware?

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  • Last Updated : 04 Jan, 2023
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Firmware is a small software that is written to Hardware devices in non-volatile memory. Firmware software programs cannot be changed and they won’t be erased when there is no power supply. But in the case of software whenever a programmer wants to change or delete the software code or program it surely can be done. The programmer can Install and delete the software at any point in time. On the other hand, Firmware, let’s say BIOS which is an example of firmware present in the CMOS chip. It won’t be erased after the manufacturers of the system write it. BIOS helps the system to boot up and which is present in Non-Volatile memory. RAM is volatile so this type of firmware is stored in non-volatile so it won’t be erased. There are many types of memory storage which is capable of storing data and not allows to edit or deleting. 

Non-volatile memory devices such as ROM, EPROM, EEPROM, and flash memory store firmware. These non-volatile memory devices contain instructions that allow computers and other systems to boot up, to run the software.

  • ROM: ROM is a short form for Read-Only Memory. ROM is not the same as volatile RAM. Because ROM is non-volatile, the contents of ROM will remain after you turn off your computer.
  • EPROM: A type of computer memory that retains its content when the power is turned off. It is the same as ROM but it can be erased and used for another program.
  • EEROM: The abbreviation of EEROM is electrically erasable read-only memory. Entire data can be deleted from it by using suitable electric signals. After deleting the whole data we can use it and write another program. It can be erased and reprogrammed 100 times without damaging any device and without decreasing its performance.
  • Flash memory: Flash memory is an electrically erasable and reprogrammable non-volatile electronic computer memory storage medium.

History of Firmware:

Early days, every firmware was written in ROM (Read only memory). The problem raised to systems when that firmware gets outdated and there was no option to update it because of the program of firmware written in ROM. So afterward firmware has now started written on EPROM, EEROM which can be erased and reprogrammed. But another problem was there. These storage devices are too expensive. Then cheap memory storage flash memory is used for writing the firmware.

Types of Firmware:

There are two types of firmware that can be serviced: 

  • System firmware: By controlling the flow of instructions and data between the hardware and software components, system firmware is responsible for providing critical boot and runtime services to the system as a whole. As a result, system firmware manages a device’s core functions such as hardware initialization, system configuration, and power management.
  • Device firmware: Device firmware is associated with a particular device integrated into a system. A firmware update is a software program that can be used to update the firmware in these devices. Firmware updates can be used to improve the device’s performance, reliability, and security.

For example, a user could download a firmware update for a network router that enhances its capabilities or fixes an issue. Firmware updates are available from hardware manufacturers. ice firmware is associated with a particular device integrated into a system.

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