What Is “Firmware” ?

Firmware is the combination of persistent memory and program code and data stored in it. Typical examples of devices containing firmware are embedded systems (such as traffic lights, consumer appliances, and digital watches), computers, computer peripherals, mobile phones, and digital cameras. The firmware contained in these devices provides the control program for the device. Firmware is held in non-volatile memory devices such as ROM, EPROM, or flash memory. Changing the firmware of a device may rarely or never be done during its economic lifetime; some firmware memory devices are permanently installed and cannot be changed after manufacture. Common reasons for updating firmware include fixing bugs or adding features to the device. This may require physically changing ROM integrated circuits, or reprogramming flash memory with a special procedure. Firmware such as the ROM BIOS of a personal computer may contain only elementary basic functions of a device and may only provide services to higher-level software. Firmware such as the program of an embedded system may be the only program that will run on the system and provide all of its functions.

Source: Wikipedia

One Response to What Is “Firmware” ?

  1. Dave Kraus says:

    Decent explanation, but a little dated. Firmware, which have worked with on an ongoing basis for the last 11+ years, is routinely updated many times during it’s useful life. I work in audio, and was responsible to update and discover firmware “bugs” between between Audio Video Receivers, Plasma, LCD displays DVD players and recorders and the like. I know the basics of the firmware code, and know all too well, the varius means to download it; proprietary ribbons cables from an RS232 or USB cable, Null Modem cable directly from a PC to an RS232 port on the product receiving the upgrade, replacing the ICs loaded with outdated firmware with a later firmware code and lastly via the Internet plugged directly into the product. I even designed a new RS232 download jig, as the previous jig was outdated, prone to failure, as well as discontinued.

    I hope this gives you a better understanding of the firmware process in general.


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