As you are reading this article, then it can be surely said that you are reading this on your smartphone or laptop computer. So, in this world of technology, you may have heard the terms driver, software, or firmware. But do these terms confuse you? If you are interested to know what is firmware and software or the difference between them, this will be a good place for you.
Read through the whole article to the basic things about these words.
What is Firmware and What are the Functionalities of Firmware?
You are most probably reading this on your PC or mobile phone. That means your devices also have firmware installed. Firmware is a set of instructions that can be called a software program that generally resides on the hardware of your device. It commands or controls the communication between hardware devices like hard drives, RAM, etc. Firmware is generally stored or installed on the flash ROM of a hardware device.
Your smartphone or computer is nothing but a combination of different types of hardware devices. The firmware of the devices inside your PC or phone controls how to communicate between them to work as a whole system, in this case: your phone or laptop. So, they are just a software program that is stored on the flash ROM of the hardware devices. In this case, it is common to raise a question.
You already know that firmware is another type of software program installed on the ROM of your device. All software has a version number which indicates the time and update of the firmware. So, the question may come in your mind what is the firmware version. If you want to check or update the firmware version of your device, you have to know the firmware version of your device. You can know this in various ways.
- It is generally printed on the package box of your device.
- The manufacturers offer some types of applications for this. You can go to the app to find out the firmware version of the device like the hard drive or SSD.
- If the device is your smartphone or computer, then you can go to the settings of the device and check the firmware version that is currently installed on the device. If an update is available for your device, you can install the firmware from there.
As you already know what is firmware, now the question comes in mind that if it can be updated or reinstalled. The answer is yes. But what is a firmware update and what does this actually mean? If the manufacturer of the device makes an update of the firmware of your device so that the hardware of your device can work more efficiently, then your device can install the update. But it is not done often. So it is stored on the ROM. ROM stands for Read-Only Memory.
If the manufacturer wants to make a firmware update of your device, it is generally just to improve the performance of the computer, laptop, or smartphone. You may have already seen that sometimes an update of your device’s firmware comes via OTA. You can simply install that or you can go to your device manufacturer’s website and download the latest firmware update.
Different Types of Firmware
As there are many types of hardware, there are many types of firmware too because they tell the hardware how to work. The firmware that resides in the motherboard of the PC is called UEFI or BIOS. Firmware is also present in the HDD, SSD, network cards, routers, etc.
If there is a hardware that does something useful things, then that has firmware installed. So, your TV, washing machine, microwave oven, even your car have firmware installed to work perfectly.
Comparison of Firmware With Respect to Software and Driver
Comparing firmware with software and driver may seem a bit confusing. But after discussing a little, we hope it will be clear to you.
Firmware vs Software
You already know what is the firmware. It is just another kind of software like Microsoft Office or Chrome. Software is nothing but a set of instructions that are known as a program that can be installed on devices like a smartphone or computer. All your applications or software like Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other web browsers like Safari or Microsoft office are installed on another software which is your device’s operating system or OS.
So, you see that software is a vast field in the digital world which covers a lot of different types of software for your devices. You can install or uninstall software whenever you want. But in the case of firmware, it is not that common to uninstall or reinstall the firmware. Because it is that type of software program which controls the hardware of your device in which all the software including the operating system is installed.
Firmware vs Driver
Your device has an operating system that manages the works of the hardware to support other software to work properly. But the OS always does not come with all the support to work perfectly between the software and the hardware. There is a driver for different hardware which also are programs like software. A driver for hardware makes sure that the hardware is perfectly working as the software wants.
You may wonder how the software of your smartphone or laptop works with the hardware. Most of the time, the software doesn’t need to work directly with the hardware. That part is covered by the driver of the specific hardware like graphics card, USB flash drives, etc.
In the end, we hope that now you know the basic things about firmware, software, and driver. Firmware is stored on the flash memory of the hardware to make it work. A driver is nothing but an intermediate program between the hardware and the software. And the software uses these to work perfectly by utilizing the hardware capability.