What is Firmware? What Does It Do?


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What is Firmware? What Does It Do?

What is firmware in almost every electronic product we use, what is it for?

Firmware. Most of us have heard this concept for years. So what is the meaning of this concept? What does it do? Firmware is a small piece of software that keeps our devices running. Just as our computer needs an operating system to work, a software is required for the hardware to work, and this software is called Firmware. Thanks to firmware, most electronic devices are operational today.

For example, there is a firmware inside the boxes that control the traffic lights, and the traffic lights can do their job properly thanks to this software. If there was no firmware in the traffic lights, the lights would not have come on functionally. In less complex devices such as traffic lights, washing machines, security cameras, firmware is the only software and contains functions related to the operation of the device by acting as an operating system.

Whichever device you are reading this article from, it also has a Firmware. Take the desktop computer, for example. A chip on the motherboard contains Firmware (the software I call UEFI / BIOS) and the motherboard can communicate with other components thanks to this software. A computer without firmware will not be able to see the hardware inside it and cannot communicate with them. That is why, if the BIOS is deleted, most of the time the motherboard becomes unusable and the firmware must be rewritten into the CMOS. Again, had it not been for the firmware inside the HDD, he would not know how fast it would spin and hurt himself.

For some devices, the firmware is in the “man in the middle” role, meaning it contains the codes required to start the operating system on the device. The BIOS is a prime example of this. In order for the operating system installed in our computer to communicate correctly with the hardware, it opens some features such as interrupts to the use of operating systems.

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Where is firmware stored on devices?

Firmware is usually stored in a special type Read-Only Memory (ROM), which is only available for data reading. ROM is required to store the firmware because the data in our device should not be deleted when the power is cut off. For example, it would be a bad situation to delete the BIOS when we shut down our computer.

Generally, ROMs can only be programmed by the hardware manufacturer, but now most of the ROMs are EEPROM, ie they can be programmed and erased electronically, so they can be reprogrammed by users. Otherwise it would not be possible to update the BIOS anyway.

Can firmware be updated?

Firmware updates can be published. These updates may include security updates for the device, more features, or more hardware support. For example, when we update the BIOS, features such as more processor support can be added to our motherboard.

One thing to be aware of when updating the firmware is that the electricity supplied to the device is not interrupted since our ROM chip is reprogrammed during the update process. If the supplied power fails, my device may become unusable because the Firmware is corrupted. This is called “bricking” the device, but today this problem can also be solved thanks to motherboards with dual BIOS. There is a solid Firmware in the second BIOS. Or, with features such as USB BIOS Flashback, Firmware can be written to the chip even if your computer is not turned on.

What should I do in case of firmware corruption?

In case your firmware is corrupted, the first thing you should do is to look at the user manual of the device. For example, LG Blu-ray player had problems during firmware update. As a result of some operations performed by pressing the button of the device, the recovery mode was activated and the device became operational again. There are such recovery modes available for many devices. If these do not work, you can contact a service authorized by the manufacturer. In these services, the firmware will be rewritten to the ROM chip in your device by a ROM programmer and your product will be repaired.

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