When using a computer, you may hear two words – firmware and software. Do you know the difference between software and firmware? If not, you can learn some information on firmware vs software from this post and MiniTool gives you a detailed introduction.

A computer is composed of two main components including software and hardware. Hardware refers to the device’s physical components while software refers to a set of instructions to perform a specific task. Firmware is a kind of software.

Reading here, you may ask: what is the difference between firmware and software? Now, let’s see the following part – software vs firmware and you can know much information about them.

Firmware VS Software: Difference Between Software and Firmware

1. Definition and Functionality

What does software mean?

Computer software, also called software, refers to a collection of data or computer instructions that tell the PC how to work. It is designed to perform a particular task. In a computer, there are two types of software including system software and application software.

System software is capable of operating, extending or controlling a computer. Software can be the interface between end-users and hardware and it is usually developed by computer manufacturers by using programming languages like C, C++ or Assembly.

These are some examples of system software:

  • Operating systems
  • Interpreters
  • Compliers
  • Assemblers
  • Device drivers

Another type of software is application software that is designed to meet specific user needs. Word, PowerPoint, and spreadsheets are application software. Additionally, there are some programs designed to support business environments, for example, a human resource management system or a medical center management system.

What is the firmware definition?

Firmware is a special type of computer software that offers low-level control for the specific hardware of a device.

Firmware can act as a complete operating system for less complex devices or provide a standard operating system for more complex software to perform all monitoring, control, and data manipulation functions.

Let’s see some examples of devices containing firmware:

  • Consumer appliances
  • Embedded systems
  • Computers and computer peripherals
  • TV remote

Beyond the simplest devices, almost electronic devices contain firmware.

2. Store

Firmware is stored in non-volatile memory including EPROM, ROM and flash memory while application software can also work from volatile and virtual memory.

3. Update

This is the main difference between firmware and software. Once the firmware is installed, it usually changed infrequently and it is not updated by you but the manufacturer. And the supplier doesn’t give you access to the firmware at all.

On consumer electronics, hard disks, optical drives, etc., there is no chance to mess with the firmware. If you mess with the firmware of these devices, they may stop working.

In some cases, you can update the BIOS of a PC and firmware of music players & smartphones. Although a device allows firmware updates, you should be very cautious. Besides, updating the firmware is difficult since it sometimes requires the circuitry replacement and reprogramming via a special procedure.

On the other hand, it is much easier to update a program or software.

4. Programming Languages

Software is written using low-level and high-level languages while the firmware is written using low-level languages.

5. Size

Firmware resides in memory that is limited in size, so it is small. Fireware can be as small as a few kilobytes since it doesn’t contain much data needed for user interface or graphics. While software files are large and take up a substantial amount of hardware memory.

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Bottom Line

Now, all the information on firmware vs software is introduced here. After reading this post, you can clearly know what the difference between firmware and software is. Hope this post can be helpful for you.

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