Difference Between Embedded Software and Hardware

Hardware vs Software is the most pivotal distinction one must draw before understanding the overall computer operation. An embedded system is at the heart of the overall functioning of the computer.

A computer hardware system with embedded software is referred to as an embedded system. An embedded system can be a stand-alone unit or a component of a larger system. It has hardware and embedded software.

In this blog post, we will discuss the overall differences and similarities between hardware and embedded software. Let’s get started!

What is Embedded Software?

Embedded software is a type of software that runs on top of the Firmware and gives the embedded device its own set of functions. Software can be found in various devices, ranging from an MP3 player to a washing machine and beyond.

Embedded software files are stored in the device’s memory and run as other software when needed. The software can be executed whenever a function is required and can complete the function quickly.

What is Embedded Hardware?

Embedded hardware consists of microprocessors and microcontrollers. Microprocessors are similar to microcontrollers in that they are composed of a CPU (central processing unit) and other fundamental computing components such as memory chips and digital signal processors (DSPs). However, microcontrollers have all of these components integrated into a single chip.

Hardware Vs Software Categorization

Both hardware and software have various components. Without one of them, the overall functioning of the computer gets disrupted. So let’s look at both hardware and software categories:


Hardware can be classified into storage devices, processing hardware, control devices, output hardware, and input hardware:

Storage Devices

Storage devices is a component of hardware that is used for the primary purpose of holding information. Information in storage devices can be saved over a long period. You can have it temporarily or permanently saved within the storage device.

Processing Hardware

Processing hardware is where raw data is converted into usable and desirable information. The data is processed as per the set of commands relayed by the user through the use of the input devices. The CPU (Central processing unit) hardware for all personal computers.

Controlling Devices

When users want to connect the computer to an external device, controlling devices are utilized.

Output Devices

Output devices are utilized when users want to send data from one computer device to another. Some examples of output devices include monitors, speakers, and printers.

Input Devices

Input devices are the equipment used in relaying data and the commands given to the processing hardware. Best input devices include keyboards, mice, etc.


The software can be classified into system, application, and programming software.

System Software

System software is a computer program that helps smooth functioning and runs the computer hardware and application software. Operating systems are the perfect example of system software.

The operating system is responsible for running the program and the application software. Another example of system software is the BIOS (Basic Input/output system).

Application Software

Application software is a computer program that performs various tasks for the user or another application. The Application software runs on the operating system. Examples of application software include web browsers, image editors, and data processors.

Programming Software

Programming software is used while developing other software. Some examples of programming software include compilers, interpreters, and debuggers

Hardware Vs Software Development

If you are wondering between software vs hardware, which one’s development is more important, then you should keep in mind both need to be up to date for the smooth functioning of your computer. First, let us look at the overall development of both hardware and software.


The development of hardware involves the creation of electrical and electromechanical devices. Therefore, hardware development has various stages to it. At the onset, the development of hardware requires companies to come up with a detailed design of the product.

Once they have decided on the product’s design, the next time is manufacturing the product. After the product is manufactured, it needs to be tested and inspected. Any form of change in the product mid-development can be extremely costly.

Therefore, given the high cost, any major change which needs to be incorporated is postponed and is made in future upgrades. In addition, hardware is developed primarily using electronic materials. So any hardware bugs which need to be fixed must be done physically, making it expensive.

Hardware development costs much more in the latter half of the product development. Since, in the later stages, there is an addition of human labor and material expense, the overall cost is bound to increase.


Software is developed in a much different fashion than hardware. This is developed through coding using a programming language by those who know computer programming.

Just like hardware, the software also requires a detailed design which is essential for achieving the desired end product. After a detailed design has been presented, the software undergoes rigorous testing for quality purposes. Unlike hardware, you can make mid-development changes in software without causing major disruption.

There isn’t much cost involved in software development. It tends to remain relatively flat. The major cost of software development is taken up by human labor. The software has always been easier to develop than hardware. The primary reason is that developing a code for the software is easier than designing and manufacturing hardware.

An advantage of the software is that the length of time for which you can utilize the software isn’t a big concern. But, again, this is because the software does not wear out.

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Hardware Vs Software Upgrade

Both your hardware and software need to be updated from time to time. So let’s look at the upgrades between software vs hardware.


Upgrades in hardware devices are made to improve the functionalities and enhance the performance. New designs are generally based on the previous hardware designs only. However, you cannot add any new functions to the previous existing hardware device. Apart from this, other factors include:

  • Hardware components cannot be improved : The hardware device of your computer cannot be improved. The only way to improve and upgrade your hardware is by purchasing the newer hardware device model.
  • Hardware upgrades are expensive : Embedded Hardware components have both expenditure of human labor as well as material cost. Hardware engineering services are considerably expensive. Additionally, most hardware components are standard. These constraints determine the extent to which we can alter the hardware component.


Unlike hardware, computer software can be enhanced and improved. Furthermore, you can do it in multiple ways, such as: adding new features, reprogramming the software, etc.

  • Software components can be improved : Software is built through a programming language, and users can change and enhance the software by changing the existing code. Therefore, by introducing a new code, you can improve your software. It can include dramatic changes to its overall functionalities.
  • Software upgrades are inexpensive : There is no additional cost for software upgrades. Thus, the only cost that users have to incur is human labor. There are no mechanical parts for the software. It is based on programming code which makes the overall expense considerably less.

Hardware Vs Software Examples

People have always wondered whether software vs. hardware plays an essential role in overall computer processing. Therefore, you cannot undermine the functions of either hardware or software. Both hardware and software even have extremely different functions, yet they are inextricable from each other. Without the other, the overall functioning of the computer gets disrupted.

Hardware begins its functions once the software has been loaded. Therefore, hardware depends on the software to first perform its core function. Only then will the hardware be able to fulfill its purpose.

Software, on the contrary, provides functions to the hardware for a particular task. So software cannot function without the hardware.

  • Examples of Hardware : Monitor, mouse, CPU, hard disk, etc
  • Example of Software : Microsoft Windows, Google Chrome browser, QuickBooks

Benefits of Embedded Software

It’s Easier to Set Up

Embedded software development, as well as its configuration, is easy after the Firmware and its design are complete. Because embedded software operates on top of Firmware, it’s critical to have well-developed Firmware.

Software can be readily installed and set up to execute additional operations on hardware or mechanical elements with the right Firmware.

Increased Functionality, Customized Programs

Every group of gadgets has its own embedded software. The software updates as the device’s requirements vary. Therefore, no two gadgets in the same category have the same software.

The capability of embedded software is expanded as a result of customization. Furthermore, while Firmware can perform a wide range of functions, many users choose to use embedded software to extend its capabilities.


Embedded software functions like all other software so that it can easily update. Embedded software updates are not complicated and can be easily done. Software updates are being transmitted, meaning anyone can download and install them on their devices. As a result, the systems are always up to date and safe.

Benefits of Embedded Hardware

Easy to Manage

Embedded systems that are meant for general use are easier to handle. In addition, since the materials used for making these devices are cheap and durable, they require less maintenance.

Fast Performance

Several elements influence an embedded system’s performance. To maximize a system’s performance, developers must meet non-functional constraints such as execution time, energy usage, and memory capacity.

The performance of an embedded system is influenced by design scalability and other performance parameters. Embedded systems that only have one task to fulfill are quick and dependable.

Hardware Advantages and Cost-Efficiency

The embedded system hardware can require little modifications, such as additional memory or storage, making it appropriate for any size device.

Furthermore, the end-user does not require physical access to the embedded device. The hardware is less expensive since embedded systems are developed for specialized tasks.

Why Choose iFour for Developing Software and Embedded Hardware

At iFour we guarantee you timely and quality service. Subsequently, we also have the ability to provide you with smart solutions regardless of how difficult the problem is.

We at iFour help our customers to navigate through their investments and utilize the most out of their hardware investments. We as a hardware engineering company seek to maximize our customers’ investments.

Our ability to provide a seamless experience to our customers does not end here. Our software development experts ensure that your software works effectively and efficiently. For this purpose, we put the software through rigorous tests and debug any bugs that might cause disruption within the overall functionality of the software.

Final Thoughts

Both hardware and software have considerable differences. We have discussed at length various distinctions between both of them. But, without a doubt, the most notable difference between hardware and software remains that hardware is tangible, whereas software is intangible.

Hardware is less durable since it wears out over some time. Software, on the contrary, does not wear out. Furthermore, you can change the software with a simple alteration in the code. As a result, it is much more durable, and constant use does not affect its overall functioning.

Hardware can only understand machine code. On the other hand, the software accepts human input and converts it into machine code. This machine code is then communicated to the hardware. After receiving the machine code from the software, only then is the hardware able to perform its function.

The hardware production process involves developing a design and manufacturing the product. On the contrary, the software requires only simple code. Once the code has been made, it is tested to ensure smooth functioning. On the other hand, hardware testing is not as severe as software testing.

Any bugs in hardware require replacing the physical hardware components. On the contrary, you can fix software bugs by changing the code.

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FAQs of Difference Between Hardware and Software

The biggest difference between hardware and software is that hardware is tangible, whereas software is intangible. Hardware only understands machine language. On the contrary, the software takes human input and converts it into machine language. Only once software performs its function is hardware able to do its job.

Both have behavior: different user interaction with products and product interaction with other products; input data affects product results.

The primary difference between embedded hardware and software is that embedded software needs to load and can only perform its function. Therefore, it is eliminated in embedded hardware which makes it much faster.