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Definition: firmware


(FIRM softWARE) Software instructions residing in non-volatile storage that holds its content without power. Firmware is found on computer motherboards to hold hardware settings and boot data (see BIOS) and on myriad consumer electronics devices to hold the operating system.

Not So Firm Today
Today's firmware chips are mostly flash memory, which can be easily updated, especially in consumer electronics products (see firmware update and flash memory). Although still used, the first firmware chips (ROMs, PROMs and EPROMs) could not be updated by the user. Software changes required replacing the chip, hence the "firm" moniker (see ROM, PROM and EPROM).

NOR and NAND Flash Memory
NOR is the type of flash memory typically used for software because individual instructions can be executed in place. NAND, which is mainly used for storage, may also be used, in which case the program in NAND is loaded into RAM for execution (see NAND flash). See non-volatile memory, flash BIOS, FOTA and wares.




The Beauty of Firmware
Firmware is easily updated and very automatic with most products. This message is a firmware update for the QNAP server, a network storage device (see NAS).