Difference Between Hardware and Firmware


Main Difference

In latest technology software, hardware, freeware are very popular terms. Never confuse all them with each other because all these are relatively different from each other. Understanding the difference between hardware and firmware is not a difficult job. First you will be required to understand their basic concepts step by step.

What is Hardware?

Hardware are those mechanical tools, which are required for performing any activity or task. It can be in different shape with different uses. Take household hardware, tools like key, locks, utensils, wire, chains, etc are examples of household hardware. Digital screen, electronic chips & transistors, capacitors are examples of digital and electronics components. Hard disk, processor, motherboard, RAM, CD Rom and power supply are kind of computer hardware. The list is endless. Some hardware are used individually like a key and some required external tool or program to work. Like key always works individually. You do not requires any other tool for performance of key. Computer hardware always requires a software to run properly. It cannot work independently.


What is Firmware?

Firmware is that electronic and computing system, software or program without which some hardware cannot be used. Program and instructions used in remote control, traffic lights, automobiles, digital cameras, mobiles, computers and laptops are common examples of firmware. You cannot use all these without having any embedded system or software. Mobile never works without any software. Computer or laptop cannot run without any Windows Operating System. Moreover, updating embedded system is not possible if it is not supported by your firmware device or tool.

Key Differences

  1. Hardware itself means something in physical and tangible shape while firmware is the name of a nonphysical and intangible system or program.
  2. Due to tangibility and physically form, hardware can got damage easily. There is no concept of damage of a product, which has no physical existence as in case of firmware.
  3. Hardware works through mechanical, electrical or electronics functions and properties while binary code is the route for working of firmware.
  4. Hardware can be steal but can never be hacked. Firmware can be hacked by hacker or can damage through any virus and malware.
  5. Additional program or software is required to run the hardware while firmware is itself a software or program.
  6. Motherboard, RAM, hard disk, washing machines, keys, cars, and digital cameras are examples of hardware while operating system, timing & control mechanisms and BIOS are examples of firmware.
  7. Firmware modification is not an easy task while hardware can be modified.
  8. Hardware in itself is a whole body and firmware works as a heart of that body.
  9. Updates of firmware are provided by developers when it is required. Hardware cannot be update however it can be replaced with higher version or model.
Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss