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So named because it is more or less permanently stored in chips, firmware is a form of software that contains coded instructions for the behavior of the components and system. It use to be that firmware was only within the domain of the BIOS. Now, firmware also exists in nearly every component and in many other parts of the computer, such as disk controllers, SCSI host adapter, video card, and sound card. See BIOS.

Firmware updates are periodically available for the main system BIOS from motherboards manufacturers. This can add functionality, fix bugs, and generally enhance the system.

However, computer technicians are not in agreement as to the advisability of a typical computer owner downloading and installing firmware updates. One camp believes that installing such updates is important in keeping the computer at peak performance. The other camp believes updating BIOS to be a very serious operation best left to those with appropriate experience. Performing the installation incorrectly, making an unintentional mistake with BIOS can have disastrous results, possibly leaving the system permanently unbootable. So, that is probably good advice.

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