Difference Between Hardware and Software

Hardware and software work together in digital devices and systems to provide computerized functionality. Hardware includes the physical components, such as the motherboard, chips, memory, and hard drives, while software includes the programs that run on the hardware. Ergo, a computer is hardware, while an operating system such as Microsoft XP is the software that makes the hardware functional. Though hardware and software are most often associated with computers, software also runs on other hardware, such as cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) units, medical equipment, and air traffic control systems. Modern cash registers are also computerized with software to better organize sales-related issues like inventory, tax, and coupon discounts.

Computer technology is employed in nearly every facet of modern society. Many software programs used in industry are proprietary, which means they are designed for a specific function. This differs from computers that are generally multi-purpose, with many different kinds of software programs for various tasks.

Hardware and software are constantly improving in a kind of leapfrog fashion. Hardware is most often the bottleneck when it comes to data transfer speeds, or how fast a software program can work. Therefore, as hardware improves, it becomes capable of running more robust software programs. Old hardware from just ten years ago may not run current software, as the software might be designed to take advantage of hardware in ways that older hardware cannot support.

For this reason, when shopping for software, the buyer should check the specifications for recommended minimal hardware requirements. The central processing unit (CPU) of a computer is nearly always mentioned, as this hardware is responsible for the overall speed of the computer, generally speaking. The amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) is another factor, and graphics capability or video card requirements might also be mentioned.

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