What is Firmware?

The word firmware originates from the phrase “fixed program,” which is a nod to its early days as a set of computer instructions that couldn’t be changed. Most of the time, you’ll see this term in the context of computers—it’s what enables your laptop and other devices to function – but the firmware is integrated into a variety of electronics, including cameras, microwaves, medical equipment, and more.

What is Firmware Responsible For?

Firmware is responsible for helping software and hardware work together. Device manufacturers often perform firmware updates from a remote location, to ensure the entire system operates at top performance.


For example, Apple regularly updates iPhone firmware to keep the system up to date with new technology. This is precisely why you might notice certain applications or features don’t work on an iPhone that hasn’t been updated in a while. Firmware updates can also remove bugs, fix glitches, and install new features on a device.


How Does Firmware Work?

Firmware is embedded into an electronic device when it is manufactured. This code will operate the device when the power button is pressed and will continue to do so until the device powers down or loses power.


Firmware code can monitor information about its environment and adjust settings accordingly. For example, your phone knows when you’re running low on battery and can ask if you’d like to turn on “low power mode” to conserve power.

Who Performs Firmware Updates?

Firmware code updates are typically created by the manufacturer and applied by the user. Some devices may require a user to navigate to a device’s settings and download an update manually. Others will update automatically with the user’s permission.


This is a common occurrence in many of the electronics we use daily. You may have turned on your smart TV and realized a streaming app needed an update before you could launch it. 

If you have ever launched a program on your laptop to see the interface has changed or there are new features available, it means the program’s firmware was updated automatically after you last used it.

When Firmware Updates Don’t Work

Old hardware may eventually become so outdated that firmware updates are no longer useful. For example, an original Apple computer doesn’t have the capacity to run current apple programs. It would be impossible to update its firmware and bring it to the present day.


Manufacturers frequently release new devices that have more advanced software and firmware systems, so users can use the latest and greatest programs and features. 

This is also why you will see many options for a device that seems practically identical at first glance. Although it may seem impractical to offer so many laptop options, it allows users to choose a device that can run more advanced programs or simpler ones.


High-Quality Firmware for Your Devices

The research and development team at Real Time Embedded Solutions combines unparalleled experience and comprehensive capabilities to develop software for embedded systems and the real-time OS industry. We provide turn-key solutions, end-to-end system development, integration, and quality assurance to face and overcome new challenges. Contact us today to get started.