Firmware is a type of software that controls the hardware of a computer operating system. It is usually stored in non-volatile memory such as ROM, EPROM, EEPROM, Flash Memory, etc. The firmware provides essential functions like booting the computer, controlling peripherals, providing basic input/output services, and other low-level tasks.
You might not know what firmware does for a computer system, but you can trust us when we say it is very important!
In this blog post, we will go over some firmware examples and talk about what function does firmware serve in a computer system.
Table of Contents
What is Firmware?
The term firmware refers to all types of code that control or operate in some electronic device.
This includes microprocessors, digital signal processors, application-specific integrated circuits, programmable logic arrays, field-programmable gate array chips, analog circuitry, discrete components, and others.
In general terms, any piece of software used by an electronics device for operation purposes is considered part of the firmware. Firmware is also called an embedded software program because it is typically installed into the hardware devices during manufacturing. The firmware is often referred to as the “BIOS” (Basic Input Output System)
For example, if your PC has a BIOS chip inside it, this would be considered part of the PC’s firmware. If your TV remote has a processor built-in, then this too could be regarded as part of the firmware of the TV set.
Different Types of Firmware
There are different types of firmware. The function determines the type it serves in a computer system.
There are two main categories, which you can think of as core and peripheral firmware.
Core firmware includes BIOS (basic input/output systems), while peripheral firmware includes video display card firmware or any other device that communicates with the computer system.
Core firmware is not lost when you shut down your PC so that it can be used again on reboot. Peripheral firmware does get reset or erased and needs to be reloaded each time you turn on a device that uses peripheral firmware.
What Function Does Firmware Serve In A Computer System?
Firmware serves a variety of functions in computer systems.
The firmware doesn’t actually serve any other physical function in most computers, although it does contain several “low-level” instructions which enable the OS to run without interference.
It is called firmware because it is the bridge between hardware and software, and it allows the hardware to be used by the operating system efficiently without conflict.
It controls how firmware chips on devices communicate with the PC’s operating system, and it also determines what features are available for use within that device.
It can be used to configure, initialize or manage devices such as hard disk drives, network cards, modems, etc.
The firmware also provides essential input/output services for computers.
The BIOS contains code that initializes the computer’s main memory chips and other components before they are available to user programs.
The primary purpose of the firmware is to provide fundamental functions for hardware. The firmware can be divided into bootstrap code and application software, which are stored on different storage media such as ROM or flash memory.
Bootstrap code provides an interface between operating systems and hardware components. It also contains information about how to start up the OS from scratch when it boots.
For example, if your firmware does not support specific Bluetooth protocols, you might have issues connecting to some Bluetooth-enabled accessories or other devices.
Firmware can also be used to limit the functionality of devices that a firmware owner does not want you to use.
For example, if your firmware is locked and limited to only playing back DVDs, it will not allow you more advanced features such as playback from USB flash drives or discs with digital video content.
What Language Is Used For Firmware?
What Are Some Examples Of Firmware?
There are several firmware examples, but the most common example is the BIOS (Basic Input Output System).
This is stored in a chip on your computer’s motherboard, and it serves as a “self-programming” device.
For example, when you turn on your computer or laptop, the BIOS program initializes system devices like disk controllers, video cards, and USB ports.
It also checks whether an operating system such as Windows®, Mac® OS X™, or Linux® is installed and starts it if so.
In addition to essential components needed for booting a PC or laptop, the BIOS firmware contains code that enables communication with keyboards, printers, etc.
The user can access settings for basic functions from within Windows/Mac/Linux without having to enter the BIOS.
What Makes Up Firmware?
There are three parts involved in writing firmware:
- Hardware, compiler and toolchain used during development.
- Configuration files describing how to build your code into an executable file.
- An executable file containing debug information within it so you can actually see what happens when running the program.
This last piece is often called a ‘binary file as it is a format for the computer to read rather than use on its own.
How Do You Know If Your Device Has Firmware Or Not?
You can find out if your device has firmware or not by looking at the product packaging, back of the device, and/or visiting your device manufacturer’s website.
Does Every Piece Of Hardware Need Its Own Firmware?
It is common to have firmware on devices such as hard drives, network switches, and computers. This type of software is often called embedded software. However, in the early 70s, when PCs were first built, there was no need for device drivers or firmware; everything was done by hardware alone.
Is There Any Difference Between BIOS And Firmware?
BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is a type of firmware, and it’s essential for booting your computer or laptop, as BIOS contains code that allows communication with keyboard, mouse, printer, etc. Unlike BIOS, firmware usually resides on devices like hard drives and motherboards.
If you want to know more about what firmware is, how it can be used in a computer system and the language that is typically used for it then this article will provide some helpful information.
You’ll also find out if every piece of hardware needs its own firmware or not as well as whether there’s any difference between BIOS and Firmware.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our blog post today!