chip inside smart card is firmware?

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The chip (SIM ?) inside the smart card is considered as firmware? My
understanding is that firmware means software on ROM. Or can we say
embedded software? I am confused with those terms.

Please advise. thanks!!

Re: chip inside smart card is firmware?
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My take:

Some things are clearly hardware (e.g. TTL logic, chips in general).
Other things are clearly software (e.g. Windows).  Stuff that doesn't
fit either category, but is somewhere in between (e.g. BIOS, or code
contained on a smart card -- but not the card itself) is firmware.

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Re: chip inside smart card is firmware? (Matt) wrote in

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Generally, you have as a bsis a smart card OS, which could be considered
firmware.  Many cards also have applications loaded onto them, which might
be considered software.  Also, in some schemes, the card reader will
download a temporary application to a card and execute it, but it won't be
permanantly stored on the card.

Hope that doesn't confuse more than it helps.


Re: chip inside smart card is firmware? (Matt) writes:
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a lot of these chips have eeprom where data &/or programming can be
loaded (depending on chip rom you have).

i think much of the smartcard protection profile has to do with
loading programming into eeprom/flash and the operation of the loaded
programming ... and frequently the partitioning provisions for
multiple different loaded functions.

an issue is that the evaluation typically is of the provisions for
loading programs ... as opposed to evaluation of the chip with the
loaded programs.

frequently they are referred to as multi-app tokens ... which is
slightly misleading ... because multi-app tends to be defined as use
with external applications. the more accurate designation tends to be
multi-function tokens ... although not strictly requiring program
loading ... the multi-function tokens that i'm aware of tend to be
programming loaded into eeprom.

note that most embedded implementations tend to refer to the
programming loaded into eeprom/flash as firmware ... to distinquish it
from "regular" software .... example is bios on most PCs.

Anne & Lynn Wheeler | /

Re: chip inside smart card is firmware?

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Re: chip inside smart card is firmware?

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Take it lightly, they are purely conventional terms. An embedded
designer will write the 'software' for his intelligent peripheral, then
the PC programmer will talk about the interface between his software and
the other's firmware. Even hardware.... if the program of a
microcontroller implemented in an FPGA is 'firmware', what's the fuse map?

Paul Burke

Re: chip inside smart card is firmware?
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The chip itself: no.  But there will typically be some firmware *on*
that chip.  It's the possibility of putting firmware (i.e. software
that isn't quite as soft as some others) on it that makes this card a
"smart" one.

Trying to interpret much into a term like "firmware" is futile.  It's
not a standardized, well-defined term to begin with, so everybody
feels free to do with it whatever they want.  It can mean anything
from "the data burnt into an FPGA to make it do what I want" to
"software contained in a device which is harder to exchange than other
pieces of software running on the same device."

Hans-Bernhard Broeker (
Even if all the snow were burnt, ashes would remain.

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