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Firmware vs Device Drivers

Discussion in 'A+' started by Timewyrm, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. Timewyrm

    Timewyrm Bit Poster

    I've been reading the chapter in Mike Meyers books, about BIOS and CMOS, and was wondering what the difference is (in terms of functionality) between the Firmware and Device Drivers. If I understand it correctly, both are forms of BIOS ?


    Certifications: A+
    WIP: Network+
  2. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

    Sort of, BIOS already has the commands needed to run whatevr device is plugged into the PC ie a keyboard

    A device driver tells the cpu/operating system how to use a particular device ie graphics card
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  3. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    The BIO's is the the most basic stuff the computer needs to boot, its the boot strap process thats so important to many aspects of IT. A computer with no in built software whatsoever would be VERY difficult to use. Drivers perform similar things but they are purely in software, they are easier to update and more suitable for optional hardware or software features as a way of extending the OS, they also generally have access to more resources.

    How would your computer work if it had no code to access the hard disk, process serial IO or the keyboard ? You'd have a very hard to use comuter indeed ! Providing these purely as drivers would make it pretty had to boot your machine for the first time ! Look at early computers like the Altair, they had hardly any stored instructions, you had to program them by flipping switches. Why do sci fi films always have such weird interfaces with switches and lights ? Anyway back to the point...

    The contents of the BIOS's are largely historic going back to the IBM PC, with a few new bits to handle newer disk drives, USB, etc added. Alot of the BIOS is now redundant and have been reimplemented in windows. At one point there was talk of a windows rom chip.

    What ends up in firmware and what ends up in software is not always a clear cut process as you've correctly pointed out.

    The important thing is that it makes the computer usable out of the box, think of a baby goat or deer, it can walk within minutes because its neurosystem has inbuilt intelligence that we don't have.

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