Firmware: What is it and how does it work

Firmware is a term that is mostly used in the field of computers. It indicates a fixed program that is a small one on most occasions. There is also a data structure that controls the internal functioning of an electronic device. Firmware can come in any form that is targeted towards the end user to make things easier to function.

Calculators and remote control – the two commonly found electronic items in the household are typical examples of where a firmware is used. There are many computer parts, TFT screens, keyboards are some more examples of the use of firmware. Some more intricate electronic items like digital cameras are also accompanied by a firmware.

There is a very thin line between a firmware and a software program and loosely speaking they have very vague boundaries. But if we were to go back a little bit to the origin of the word ‘firmware’, it must be mentioned that the word was brought into effect, to tell apart such a program that can be used or changed even without the need to replace any hardware part.

The term ‘firmware’ also is a pretty relative term because most embedded gadgets are built with firmware with multiple levels. Firmware stays in ROM, PROM/OTP. However, there are more complex examples of firmware that make use of flash memories for allowing updates. Many modern day devices are built with such firmware.

Like software programs, even firmware needs updates. Reasons for this are very common – that is done either for adding latest features or for fixing bugs.

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