In electronic systems and computing, firmware is a type of software that provides control, monitoring and data manipulation of engineered products and systems. Typical examples of devices containing firmware are embedded systems (such as traffic lights, consumer appliances, remote controls and digital watches), computers, computer peripherals, mobile phones, and digital cameras. The firmware contained in these devices provides the low-level control program for the device. As of 2013, most firmware can be updated.
Firmware is held in non-volatile memory devices such as ROM, EPROM, or flash memory. Changing the firmware of a device may rarely or never be done during its lifetime; some firmware memory devices are permanently installed and cannot be changed after manufacture. Common reasons for updating firmware include fixing bugs or adding features to the device. This may require ROM integrated circuits to be physically replaced, or flash memory to be reprogrammed through a special procedure. Firmware such as the ROM BIOS of a personal computer may contain only elementary basic functions of a device and may only provide services to higher-level software. Firmware such as the program of an embedded system may be the only program that will run on the system and provide all of its functions.
Before integrated circuits, other firmware devices included a discrete semiconductor diode matrix. The Apollo guidance computer had firmware consisting of a specially manufactured core memory plane, called "core rope memory", where data were stored by physically threading wires through (1) or around (0) the core storing each data bit.
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