There is software, then there is hardware but firmware is in-between.
Firmware is semi-permanent data held within a piece of equipment. The data exists on memory chips that can be re-programmed if required.
For example, a lot of calibration and setting-up data is held in Flash Memory chips within equipment. This data will most likely not change in the lifetime of the equipment, but it is able to be changed should the need arise.
The start-up code for computers, known as the BIOS is an example of firmware. Should the motherboard need to be changed or perhaps a new set of RAM chips installed, the BIOS can be changed to suit.
A lot of medical and scientific equipment has calibration settings stored in firmware. Some entertainment systems such as satellite receivers also have firmware that can be changed at a later date.
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Click on this link: Firmware