Difference Between Hardware and Firmware

Hardware Vs Firmware: The Difference Between Hardware and Firmware


Hardware and firmware are common terms used in the technology industry, but what exactly is the difference between hardware and firmware? In this blog, we will explore the key difference between hardware and firmware and how they work together.

What is Hardware?

Hardware refers to the physical, tangible components that make up a device or system. Things like processors, circuit boards, memory chips, batteries, displays, and casings are all examples of hardware. Hardware provides the physical structure and interfaces that allow a device to function. Some key characteristics of hardware include:

  • It can be touched and felt physically.
  • It is susceptible to damage if dropped or exposed to environmental factors.
  • It requires firmware to operate and tell it what to do.

Examples of hardware include computers, smartphones, routers, printers, and industrial equipment.

What is Firmware?

Firmware refers to the low-level programming that resides on the hardware and provides instructions for what the hardware should do. Firmware is embedded directly into the hardware itself, often stored in non-volatile memory like ROM, EPROM, or Flash memory. Some key characteristics of firmware include:

  • It cannot be touched or felt physically like hardware.
  • It is not susceptible to physical damage.
  • It provides instructions and programming for the hardware to function.
  • It does not require reprogramming after being installed on hardware.

Examples of firmware include BIOS, device drivers, and firmware updates.

The relationship between Hardware vs Firmware is symbiotic – hardware requires firmware to function, and firmware needs hardware to run its instructions. Without firmware, hardware would simply be inert components that do nothing. And without hardware, firmware would have no physical device to control. They work together harmoniously.

Let’s explore some more specific the difference between hardware and firmware:

  • Hardware vs Firmware Tangibility

One of the main differences is the tangibility – hardware can be physically touched and felt, while firmware has no physical form. Hardware exists as real-world components like circuit boards, chips, and casings. Firmware is intangible software that resides on these hardware components.

  • Susceptibility to Damage

Because hardware is physical, it can potentially be damaged if dropped, exposed to moisture or extreme temperatures, or suffers physical impacts. Firmware, being intangible software, is not susceptible to physical damage in the same way. However, firmware can become corrupted or outdated over time.

  • Requirement for Reprogramming

Once firmware is installed on hardware during the manufacturing process, it typically does not require reprogramming. Hardware components, on the other hand, may need to be replaced or repaired if damaged. Firmware can also be updated over-the-air without needing to access physical hardware.

  • Role and Function

The role of hardware is to provide the physical interfaces, connectivity, processing power, and structure needed for a device to function. Firmware then provides the low-level programming instructions that tell the hardware what tasks to perform. Hardware is passive without firmware to control it.

Examples in Devices

In computers, common hardware includes the motherboard, processor, memory, storage drives, ports, and casing. The BIOS firmware provides instructions for the computer hardware to boot and function properly. In routers, the hardware is the circuit boards and wireless radios, while the firmware controls the routing functions and settings.

The relationship between hardware and firmware is symbiotic. Hardware relies on firmware for instructions, while firmware needs physical hardware to run its code and interface with the world. Together, they allow complex electronic devices to function. Understanding the differences between these two core components is important across industries like computing, networking, manufacturing, and more.

Let’s explore how Hardware vs Firmware work together in more detail using an example from the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) space:

IoT Hardware and Firmware

In an industrial IoT solution for asset tracking, the hardware would include RFID/NFC tags attached to assets, gateways to read the tags, network infrastructure like routers and switches, backend servers to collect the data, and a user interface.

The firmware controls critical functions:

  • Tag firmware stores a unique ID and handles communication protocols with gateways.
  • Gateway firmware reads nearby tags, collects the IDs, and sends the data to servers.
  • Server firmware receives tag readings and processes/stores the location data.
  • User interface firmware displays the asset locations and allows configuration.
  • Without the tag, gateway, server, and interface hardware, the IoT solution would have nothing to run on. But without the controlling firmware, the hardware components would just sit idle and not be able to track and report on asset locations as needed.

The firmware ensures low-power communication between tags and gateways, efficient data transfer to servers, and an intuitive user experience. Regular firmware updates can add new features, fix bugs, and improve overall solution performance over time.


In summary, hardware is the physical infrastructure while firmware provides the intelligence behind the scenes. An IoT solution relies on both hardware components working seamlessly together with firmware instructions. Understanding the hardware and firmware difference of two core elements that differ yet depend on each other is important for any technology professional or business using IoT.

In industrial environments like manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare, properly implementing both hardware infrastructure and controlling firmware is critical for applications like predictive maintenance, cold chain monitoring, equipment utilisation tracking and more. Choosing a vendor with expertise in both hardware design and firmware development ensures a robust and well-integrated solution.

If you need someone to manage all project needs and provide innovative, trustworthy solutions that can significantly increase your company’s future growth potential, get in contact with us. Monarch Innovation develops customised solutions to help customers re-engineer their production processes to optimise the effectiveness and output of their organisations. Monarch Innovation has a competitive edge in the industry thanks to its highly skilled workforce and state-of-the-art facilities.


Q.1 Can hardware function without firmware?

A: In most cases, hardware requires firmware to function properly. Firmware provides the necessary instructions for hardware components to perform specific tasks.

Q.2 Examples of hardware vs. firmware? 

A: Hardware examples include a computer’s central processing unit (CPU), while firmware examples include the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) in a computer.

Q 3: What happens if firmware is corrupted?

A: If firmware is corrupted, the device may not function correctly or at all. Firmware corruption can be addressed through reinstallation or firmware updates.

Q 4 : Can firmware be hacked?

A: Firmware can be vulnerable to hacking. Regular updates, strong security measures, and adherence to best practices are crucial to mitigate the risk of firmware-based attacks.

Q.5  Are all electronic devices equipped with firmware?

A: Not all electronic devices have firmware. Simple devices may operate solely on hardware, while complex ones, like smartphones or routers, rely on embedded firmware for functionality.


Firmware Development

Firmware Development: Things You Need to Know

The firmware is a flash memory chip that stores specific software that controls the functions of an embedded device.

Embedded Firmware Development is nothing more than programming code on hardware to execute on embedded electronics. Developers who do this thoroughly understand embedded processors and collaborate closely with embedded hardware engineers. They program the embedded designs using the codes. Firmware codes can regulate many physical devices’ functions. FOTA refers to the ability of hardware code to be updated wirelessly (Firmware Over the Air).

Embedded Development Requires Different Skills

To become an expert in Embedded Firmware Development, any developer must have a thorough theoretical and practical understanding of the software and hardware components. If they lack knowledge of one or both, the odds of writing a well-functioning code are reduced.

To give you an idea, in addition to technical skills, the developer should have these three core notions –

      • Have a firm grasp of the overall embedded system.
      • A thorough understanding of hardware and software.
      • Recognize the system’s structural constraints.

When it comes to technical skills are comprised of three components: embedded programming languages, real-time operating systems, and device drivers. To name a few of the most important criteria:

      • Programming in C and C++, MCUs, and microprocessors
      • At the System on a Chip (SoC) level, you should be familiar with the Linux operating system, the real-time operating system, and software optimization.
      • Debugging and updating skills for existing codes.
      • Comprehensive understanding of data structures, Python programming language, and ability to comprehend schematics and datasheets.
      • RISC-V instruction set architecture, communication protocol comprehension
      • Comprehensive knowledge of the Internet of Things (IoT) and internet-based technologies.

5 Essential Steps of Embedded Firmware Development

It is preferable to proceed in steps for individuals unfamiliar with Embedded Firmware Development’s overall operation. You get a segmented strategy and separate the complex operations in this manner. The entire development process of an IoT device is divided into five primary segments. A simple read can clear up any confusion.

1) Determine The Requirements

Identifying the process needs is always the most important stage. You must know what you require and, more importantly, why you require it. Before commencing with the architecture, the developer must make a list of the associated components needed. The identifying mechanism is also linked to the utility aspect.

Every requirement statement has two characteristics: it is unambiguous, and it is testable. The statement must be exact, clear, and concise. Testing is essential since you cannot verify usability without it. It may appear to be a broad stage, but it is the core of every Embedded Firmware Development process.

2) Distinguish The Architecture from The Design

This step will provide more clarity. You have already realized that this is a software and hardware process. But there is always something that separates the two. When a developer becomes confused between the various layers of firmware engineering, the task becomes difficult!

Architecture is a scale model that never incorporates variables or functions. The architecture explains the enduring characteristics. Because it is difficult to edit or update, the developer must first comprehend it and adjust the code to make it appropriate. On the other hand, the firmware design document goes into detail, including the duties of the activities within device drivers. It also reveals information about the subsystem interfaces.

3) Time Management

Most goods have a combination of great, soft, and non-real time needs. Soft real-time requirements are extremely difficult to describe, and the simplest method to manage them is to consider them as hard real-time requirements. This stage includes the demand for punctuality.

It is critical to separate real-time functionality from the rest of the software for two reasons:

      • Simplifying the design and operation of non-real-time software since it eliminates safety concerns even when employing inexperienced coders’ codes.
      • The effort required to execute RMA or rate monotonic analysis is lowered by isolating ISRs from high-priority jobs.

4) Testing Design

The following step is critical. It entails several evaluation procedures to determine whether the entire system works. Three of the most widely used testing procedures are as follows:

System test: It ensures that the entire product fits the specifications. Generally, this testing does not fall under the purview of engineers, although it does fit into the test harness they developed.

Integration test: It ensures that the architecture’s connected subsystems interact as they should. It verifies that the output is correct. This testing is often best developed by a testing group or software engineer.

Unit test: It involves individual software components to determine if they are performing correctly at the intermediate design level. The ideal people to develop this testing are those who write code under the test.

5) Personalizing Plans

This stage covers managing the customization capabilities. This step is critical for implementing or making changes. Diversity is simple to handle with a well-designed architecture. Its goal is to make the new customizations work without interfering with the original functionality.

Tips For Speeding Up the Embedded Firmware Development Process

      • Looking for new and improved ways to innovate and upgrade. The main aspect is always improvement.
      • Developing a skill improvement strategy by studying new Embedded Firmware Development methodologies.
      • Begin using a platform and segment the workload carefully.
      • Create code that can be reused to manage time. It contributes to a higher ROI.


So, it should clear up most of your questions about Embedded Firmware Development. Reading this gives you a general understanding of what it is, how it operates, and other related things. Because of our extensive IoT experience, Monarch Innovation offers Embedded IoT development and specializes in Rapid IoT prototypes. Do you want to create an IoT product? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

embedded firmware development

What is the Purpose of Firmware in an Embedded System

Firmware… you’ve undoubtedly heard of it before. Doesn’t that seem like a strange German name? But exactly, what is firmware? What is the definition of firmware, and how would you describe it? What is the purpose of firmware? What is the function of firmware? Clearly, the goal isn’t merely to perplex you. Firmware is important for hardware components of all types, from smartphones to smart TVs to washing machines and other gadgets, as you will learn in this article. We explain all you need to know about firmware in this post to clarify things and help you have a better understanding of the subject. Let’s get this discussion started:

What exactly is firmware? What is the purpose of firmware?

Firmware is a tiny chunk of software that lets hardware function as envisioned by the maker. It comprises software developers’ programs that make hardware devices “tick.” Most of the electrical gadgets we use daily would not function without firmware. They were not going to do anything.

To illustrate things simpler, consider this: a desktop motherboard without firmware would be unable to identify the hard drive or video card installed in your system. Your hard drives would not know how easy to spin or when to stop if they didn’t have firmware stored in them. A wireless internet card would have no idea how to connect to Wi-Fi using a specific radio frequency.

The need for high quality embedded firmware design and development services

Industry 4.0 is transforming industries and disciplines, and technological advancements are blurring the barriers between hardware and software. Embedded firmware development is increasingly a requirement in the creation of machines and devices.

One of the most significant advantages of adopting an embedded system is that it significantly decreases the expense of conventional labor. Sensors integrated into machines on a production process, for example, gather important operational data from the equipment. To evaluate the machine’s efficiency, a professional only needs to review the information. The information may also be used to create a preventative and anticipatory management strategy, which can enhance cumulative effectiveness. All of the data aids to expedite the machine operation procedure and discover faults before they become major issues that cause production delays.

The additional benefit of employing embedded software development solutions is that it ensures that the device works efficiently and securely. It also provides you with the information you need to optimize the process’ productiveness, both in terms of reliability and production efficiency.

Monarch Innovation’s approach to embedded firmware development and design

Monarch Innovations provides a firmware solution for embedded devices. We provide Embedded Firmware Development Services from concept to execution, assisting our customers in lowering costs, increasing performance, and shortening time-to-market. These services, along with our cordless networking expertise and practice experts, enable clients to solve various problems of developing and implementing Embedded Firmware Systems in a cost-effective manner. Our team provides end-to-end firmware development help, starting with establishing consumer demands and ending with quality and environment testing.

We have firmware developers with a wide range of abilities and experience in firmware and embedded software development. Monarch Innovations is a coherent companion for creating massive, digitized alternatives, devices, and low-level components that allow freshness, with twenty years of the first experience under our conveyor. We harmonize with broad R&D practice in embedded firmware development and authenticated management techniques; Monarch Innovations is a consistent partner for constructing new electronic solutions, devices, and low-level elements that allow novelty.

Why should you choose Monarch Innovation to architect and create embedded firmware?

Monarch Innovations’ strong embedded software design competence works in tandem with its outstanding hardware engineering expertise to safeguard its advanced sensor creation capabilities. Our Embedded Systems Division is a robust group of specialists with years of hands-on firmware development expertise and a broad variety of subject knowledge.

We devote special consideration to each and every aspect of the approach, ensuring that all system parts are properly integrated and the system infrastructure is continually adjusted in order to provide an elevated and trustworthy result. We have a talented group of embedded software developers with a comprehensive understanding of established frameworks, network protocols, and other topics. As a result, we’ve been able to build a significant foothold in the field of embedded firmware development.

Get in touch with us today if you need Embedded Firmware Design and Development Services!

Please contact us if you would want our first-class embedded firmware engineering and design expertise to assist you with the design and development of your next embedded device.

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