What Function Does Firmware Serve In A Computer System

What Function Does Firmware Serve In A Computer System

 

The firmware is a type of software that manages the hardware of a computer operating system. Typically, it   stores non-volatile memory such as ROM, EPROM, EEPROM, Flash Memory, etc. It performs essential functions such as booting the computer, controlling peripherals, providing basic input/output services, and other low-level tasks.

 

You might not understand what firmware does for a computer system, but you can trust us when we say it is extremely important!

In this post, we will explore some firmware examples and discuss what function firmware serves in a computer system.

 

What is Firmware?

Firmware is any type of code that controls or operates an electronic device.

Among these are microprocessors, digital signal processors, application-specific integrated circuits, programmable logic arrays, field-programmable gate array chips, analog circuitry, discrete components, and assorted

Generally, any piece of software used by an electronics device for operation purposes is consider part of the firmware. Firmware is an embedded program, which is typically installed into hardware devices before manufacture. The firmware is sometimes referred to as “BIOS” (Basic Input Output System)

 

As an example, if your PC has a BIOS chip inside it, this would be consider part of its firmware. A TV remote with a built-in processor could also be consider part of the firmware of a TV set.

 

Various Types of Firmware

There are various types of firmware. A firmware’s function in a system determines its type.

There are two main types of firmware, which you can think of as core firmware and peripheral firmware.

As for core firmware, it includes BIOS (basic input/output systems), while peripheral firmware includes video display card firmware or any other device that communicates with the computer.

When you shut down your PC, it does not lose its core firmware, so you can re-use it. A peripheral firmware device does get reset or erased every time you turn it on, and it needs to be reload.

 

What Function Does Firmware Serve In A Computer System?

Computer systems rely on software for a variety of functions.

While the firmware in most computers does not perform any other physical function, it does contain a number of “low-level” instructions that enable the OS to run without interference.

As the bridge between hardware and software, firmware allows the hardware to be utilized efficiently by the operating system without conflict.

It determines how firmware chips on devices communicate with the PC’s operating system, as well as what features are available within that device.

Devices such as hard disk drives, network cards, modems, etc. can be configured, initialized, or managed with it.

Input/output functions are also provided by the firmware.

BIOS code initializes the computer’s main memory chips and other components before they are available to user programs.

Firmware’s primary purpose is to provide fundamental functions to hardware. Firmware can be divided into bootstrap code and application software, which are stored on different storage media, such as flash memory or ROM.

Bootstrap code provides an interface between an operating system and hardware components. Additionally, it contains details on how to start the OS from scratch when it boots.

For example, if your firmware does not support specific Bluetooth protocols, you might have trouble connecting to some Bluetooth-enabled accessories or other devices.

It is also possible to limit the functionality of devices that the firmware owner does not want you to use.

In the example above, if your firmware is locked and can only play back DVDs, you won’t be able to playback from USB flash drives or discs with digital video content.

 

FAQs

 

What Language Is Used For Firmware?

Firmware is primarily written in C or C++. In addition to C and C++, other high-level programming languages, such as Python and JavaScript, are now used for microcontrollers and embedded systems. Ada is also used in some military and aerospace projects.

 

What Are Some Examples Of Firmware?

The most common firmware example is the BIOS (Basic Input Output System).

This is stored on your computer’s motherboard and serves as a “self-programming” device.

When you turn on your computer or laptop, the BIOS program initializes various system devices such as disk controllers, video cards, and USB ports.

Also, it checks if an operating system such as Windows®, Mac® OS XTM, or Linux® is installed and starts it if it is.

Additionally, the BIOS firmware contains code that enables communication with keyboards, printers, etc.

With Windows/Mac/Linux, the user can access basic settings without having to enter the BIOS.

 

What Makes Up Firmware?

Writing firmware involves three steps:

  • During development, hardware, compiler, and toolchain were used.
  • Files describing how to build your code into an executable.
  • You can actually see what happens when you run an executable file containing debug information.

The last piece is sometimes referred to as a binary file since it is a format that a computer can read rather than use by itself.

 

How Do You Know If Your Device Has Firmware Or Not?

Check the product packaging, the back of the device, and/or the manufacturer’s website to see if your device has firmware.

 

Does Every Piece Of Hardware Need Its Own Firmware?

Hard drives, network switches, and computers all contain firmware. This type of software is referred to as embedded software. However, when PCs were first built in the early 1970s, there were no device drivers or firmware needed; everything was handled by hardware alone.

 

Is There Any Difference Between BIOS And Firmware?

BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is a type of firmware, and it’s necessary for your computer or laptop to boot since it includes code for communication with the keyboard, mouse, printer, etc. As opposed to BIOS, firmware usually lives on hard drives and motherboards.

 

Summary

Those who wish to learn more about what firmware is, how it can be used in a computer system, and the language used for it will find some helpful information in this article.

 

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