A non-volatile memory chip that holds program instructions and related data without requiring power. Essentially "hard software," firmware is found on motherboards and in myriad electronic modules, both portable and stationary, wherever software is designed to be permanent and not routinely updated. Firmware is the way software is stored in handhelds and other devices that do not have hard disks. It is much more compact, rugged and economical than a disk drive.|
Very Firm to Not So Firm
Still used, the first firmware chips were read-only memories (see ROM and PROM), which are truly "firm" and not changeable. Later, erasable PROM chips could be updated, but with difficulty (see EPROM). However, subsequent flash memory firmware is more easily updatable, even by the user (see flash memory). See firmware update, non-volatile memory, flash BIOS and FOTA.