What is firmware?

Discussion in 'Mac Help/Tips' started by Shrek, Aug 6, 2002.

  1. Shrek macrumors 65816

    Shrek

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    Jul 23, 2002
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    Nashville, Tennessee USA
    #1
    I keep seeing the word 'firmware' on these boards, but don't know what it is. Help!
     
  2. cb911 macrumors 601

    cb911

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    #2
    are you thinking about Open Firmware? at startup you can hold down 'cmd+option+O+F' and then you can see for yourself. then, if you want to reset your open firmware just type 'reset-all'. then, when you've seen enough type 'bye' and it will go on with the normal startup.
    hope that helps.
     
  3. Ensign Paris macrumors 68000

    Ensign Paris

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    #3
    As far as I can understand Firmware is what controls the functions of the computer, down at the processor / logic level, it keeps an inventory of everything about the mac (boot up holding command, option (alt) O and F and type in ls / dev and it lists them)

    Ensign
     
  4. AlphaTech macrumors 601

    AlphaTech

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    #4
    In geekeze, firmware is similar to bios on the peeceee... The main difference is that Apple only allows you to do a limited amount with the firmware, where most peecee's allow you to fully molest it (the bios). :eek: :eek: :p :D

    As for resetting the firmware on the Mac, that [generally] removes any excessive parts that might have accumulated through use along with other things. There are some articles on Apple's knowledge base about open firmware. Check it out there if you would like to know more.
     
  5. Hemingray macrumors 68030

    Hemingray

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    #5
    Interesting, I've never heard of that one. I've always used 'mac-boot'. Does Apple actually have documentation on all of OF's commands?
     
  6. Ensign Paris macrumors 68000

    Ensign Paris

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    #6
    Some where there is a list because that is where I got the dev / ls and the ls / dev commands from :) They are quite useful when you are seeing if USB device is working and you can't be bothered to start up, also when you can't be bother fixing someones machine just call up Firmware type ls / dev and say that after 24 hours it should be fine and in a few days when you can be bothered you can go fix it properly, not that I have ever done that :)
     
  7. Shrek thread starter macrumors 65816

    Shrek

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    #7
    Uh no, I don't have a Mac (yet), so I can't do this. :(
     
  8. strider42 macrumors 65816

    strider42

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    Feb 1, 2002
    #8
    Re: What is firmware?

    well, there's HARDware, SOFTware, and somewhere in the middle is FIRMware, its kind of the programing for hardware. it tends not to be user configurable, and requires a special kind of update to be changed in most cases. very low level stuff. Most (if not all) electronic devices have some kind of firmware.
     
  9. cb911 macrumors 601

    cb911

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    #9
    Shrek, if you still want to know more about open firmware you should have a look on Apple's Knowledge Base. have a look here for some stuff: http://kbase.info.apple.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/kbase.woa/wo/0.0.15.26.3 that's just the results i got from a search of 'firmware'.

    hhmmm... PowerBook Firmware update 2.4...... no wait! it's 4.2.9! aahhhhh! i have to update my firmware!!!:eek:
     
  10. awrc macrumors regular

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    Milwaukee, WI
    #10
    Firmware is software that's stored in non-volatile memory, most usually some sort of flashable EEPROM. This means that when the system's turned off, it doesn't vanish like sofftware stored in regularly memory. I suppose ROM memory can be considered firmware (*very* firmware), but nowadays it's more common to see firmware stored in memory that can be updated by special software to fix bugs, improvements, and so on.

    As others have said, it's generally associated with the very low-level system software that gets a Mac or PC's hardware initialized before the operating system is booted. It's also pretty common in anything electronic that's complex enough to require a proper microprocessor or microcontroller.

    Looking around the room - my old Axis 2100 network camera has firmware (a complete Linux implementation, no less), my router has firmware, my Axis Officebasic printserver has firmware, but might as well not have because they've never issued an update for the damn thing. Your cellphone may have firmware (my Nokia does) although getting upgrades out of providers is like getting blood out of a stone.

    Anyone know if the iPod actually has true flashable firmware? Or does it take the evil approach favored by the Nomad Jukebox. This has very basic firmware that boots the actual software that the unit runs off the internal hard drive, thereby making upgrading an extreme pain (since you have to clone the appropriate sectors of the hard drive, using something like 'dd' on a Linux box, and copy the resulting binary to the new drive)
     
  11. G4scott macrumors 68020

    G4scott

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    #11
    Firmware is like software, except harder to bend :D :p

    As far as the iPod's firmware is concerned, I'm pretty sure that it's fully flashable. You can upgrade it's OS, and it has the ability to support future codecs... If Apple wanted, they could probably put a MPEG 4 AAC codec in the iPod... You might even be able to change an old Mac only iPod into a pee-cee iPod by changing the firmware and formatting the hard drive so that they support the win32 filesystem, or whatever they use...
     
  12. cb911 macrumors 601

    cb911

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    #12
    flashable? what does this mean? do i want to *flash* the firmware in my TiBook?
     
  13. AlphaTech macrumors 601

    AlphaTech

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    #13
    Just run the software update control panel from OS 9.x and follow the instructions if it finds any firmware updates...

    Apple makes it easy.
     
  14. Rajj macrumors 6502a

    Rajj

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    #14
    Hey Alpha, what should the firmware be for the TiBooks running 10.1.5?

    Mine shows 3.36f5.
     
  15. AlphaTech macrumors 601

    AlphaTech

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    #15
    Which TiBook do you have??? Boot into OS 9.2.2 and run the software update control panel (provided you have an internet connection) and see if it comes up with any firmware updates. IF it does, run/install it as per the directions that it gives.
     
  16. GeeYouEye macrumors 68000

    GeeYouEye

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    #16
    iPod "firmware"

    the iPod, contrary to what Apple would have you believe, des not have firmware. The so-called "firmware" updates are just software updates. The reason for Apple calling it firmware is that they don't want anyone writing new software for the iPod to do anything, for example, like burning CDs, or anything else the StrongARMs ae capable of doing.
     

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