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Hardware & Software: Difference And Connection

Modern computers consist of many individual parts: That is divided into hardware and software categories, which in combination form the basis of today’s information technology. This article will explain the difference and show you how the interaction works.

  • Due to the progressive development of the Internet of Things (IoT), even household appliances such as washing machines, stoves or refrigerators are now operated with the help of software.
  • Hardware and software are team players: one works in conjunction with the other.

Hardware Can Be Touched

The term hardware (English for “iron goods”) summarizes all physical components of a computer or smartphone, i.e. basically everything you can touch. The main features, the so-called computer hardware, include:

  • Mainboard ( mainboard ) with the CPU socket and the card slots
  • Processor (CPU) that determines the operating speed of your computer
  • Memory /RAM, which temporarily stores running applications and processes
  • The hard drive where you store your files and programs
  • Graphics card that translates your PC’s processes into understandable graphics and characters
  • Input devices such as a mouse and keyboard that you use to communicate with your computer.

Hardware also includes all components that react to mechanical or electrical impulses, such as screens, printers and fax machines, USB sticks or other peripherals. They are also referred to as “External Hardware”. 

Good to know: Notebooks and desktop PCs differ in hardware design due to their different sizes, but the core components always remain the same.

The Statement For Software

Software is the opposite of hardware and refers to all non-physical components of a computer. This includes all programs required for system operation and information processing, as well as all data generated with them.

The software also includes the operating system

  • The BIOS allows the computer to start-up in the first place.
  • The drivers are required to operate the hardware and devices.
  • All applications and programs, such as Office programs or games.
  • The files stored on the computer (e.g. documents, music, pictures or videos)

In contrast to hardware, the software is more easily changeable: it does not require the computer to be modified but is installed or uninstalled on the device.

If the software is developed for specific products and “embedded” on it, it is called “embedded software engineering”. As “embedded software” or “firmware”, it takes over the system’s control and takes care of the interaction with the environment. This form can be found, for example, in onboard computers in cars, in navigation systems or entertainment devices such as MP3 and DVD players. The unique feature: Embedded Software” can only be operated on the hardware it was programmed for and is not compatible with other systems.

How Does The Interaction Between Hardware And Software Work?

Hardware and software only come in a double pack: Although the hardware carries out all the actions of the computer, it is only the cooperation with the software that determines the available options and turns them into a functioning system.

For example, if you want to print out your text entered in Word v, you need a printer. Conversely, if you have a printer but no operating system with the appropriate drivers, your computer will not be able to recognize it as such.

In short: the software tells the hardware what to do. If we compare a computer system with a flesh-and-blood human, the hardware corresponds to the body with its skeleton, muscles and tendons. On the other hand, the software is responsible for the management and is thus the computer’s brain.

The software also makes a not insignificant contribution to the efficient use of the installed hardware. For example, you can achieve different system performances on identical hardware configurations depending on the selected operating system and the installed drivers.

The briefest definition of the two components can be found here:

  • Hardware (“hard goods”) are all physical components, i.e. everything you can touch with your hands.
  • Software: (“soft goods”) are all immaterial things, i.e. everything you cannot connect with your hands.

Also Read: Six Different Types Of Software

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