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Difference between Hardware and Firmware

Hardware vs Firmware

Hardware and firmware are very common terms in the world of technology today and their specific features clearly differentiates them from each other. It is essential to have a basic knowledge about these two techie terms and the key differences between them.

The term ‘hardware’ refers to a combination of all the mechanical units that are integrated on a device and are considered to fall under the fittings category. For instance, the processor, the motherboard, memory, removable device (flash drives/disks), sound card, input/output devices of a computer or an electronic gadget are all hardware.

These mechanical units cannot operate on their own and needs to be programmed for their proper functioning. Programming can be defined as a set of instructions following which a workstation performs its operations. We are all familiar with a huge number of programs that we use on our daily lives. MS-Word is a word processing program whose function is based on a set of instructions directing it on how to process words. The hard circle of the device is used by programming and the working framework summons different programs to perform specific tasks. Programs are coded in programming languages such as C or Java.

‘Firmware’ can be defined as a particular category of programming. Programming is required to carry out any task by the numerous processors of a device and this programming is integrated onto a ROM (Read Only Memory). This program package that controls the hardware is called the firmware. So firmware can be simply explained as a code which is compatible with a specific hardware and usually works on binary code.
While surfing the internet, we use our device to connect to the web using a specific system card or modem. The Operating System on our device utilizes a programming called gadget drivers to connect with the modem. The processor on which the modem is set up can have its own firmware which is in charge of controlling the data transfer between the web and the workstation. Another case of firmware that we can see today are mobile phones, washing machine, microwave ovens etc. Firmware usually does not need to be reprogrammed unless it is inevitable. The producer of units such as disk drives of a device sometimes offer redesigns owing to a firmware overhaul. In such cases, the operating system on your devices bring out the gadgets drivers suited for that piece of hardware to repair the firmware.

Key Differences between Hardware & Firmware:

A hardware has a physical entity and can undergo physical damage, unlike a firmware.
A hardware needs a program to run. A firmware is a program itself.
A hardware cannot operate without a firmware. A firmware operates on a hardware.
A hardware can be reprogrammed. A firmware does not require reprogramming except for a few cases.
Example of Hardware: Motherboard, RAM, Disk Drive, Sound Card.
Example of Firmware: BIOS in IBM-Compatible PC, Timing and Control Mechanisms in Washing Machines, Sound and Video Controlling Attributes in Modern TVs.


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