Firmware : a definition. What it is, how it works, when you want it



Thanks to CDFreaks, its posters & forum I have a good idea how to upgrade firmware.

But why is it worth searching for the right firmware & version, to update the firmware on an optical drive?

I think most people, if we consider the set of people who know of firmwares & what they are, know that updating firmware is the way to update the ‘feature set’ (what features?) or the ‘capabilities’ (what capabilities?) of the drive, or perhaps alter the drive’s DVD region-lock.

Beyond that I have not seen a definite explanation of what firmware is (& is not) & why optical drives rely on firmware whatever it is, how it works precisely, & what it won’t do generally & what it CANNOT do for your drive.

Excuse my having passed over any such answers in another post or sticky, but I have tried to find it on the forums and: nada (nothing).

As far as I can see, and contrary to how I believed drives would operate on blank media:
drives do not have sensors that permit measuring the right data to burn media. The data required for a successful burn would include the exact position for the first bit of the innermost track, the intesity of the laser, perhaps the number of passess per track required to burn the dye enough.

Now certain blank discs have alot of similarities - they have similar track densities, sizes & dye types.
One of the things that will change with each blank media is the exact location of the first bit.
So the firmware is the only way that a drive knows how to operate a successful burn on a particular run of blank media.

The firmware is a database of specifications & parameters that will customise the burn procedure of the drive to ensure that you have a successful burn. Firmware releases are the only method to update the drives media database.
Firmware also is also the route to other of the drive’s environmental parameters / factory settings.

This is all you will be able to change via firmware.

Can the forum gurus who really know care to expand/edit/confirm please?

(Damn I have to confess something.
I am a side-track junkie! :eek:
I should have posted this eight hours ago! But instead I got into at least 7 other things before returning to writing this post. :doh: )


FIRMWARE is just software for an specific drive/device.


Basically the firmware is a collection of instructions that a drive use to work.

Because of there are many different types of discs, a burner must know exactly how to manage each disc type, and this information is contained in firmware.

In a simpler way, the firmware is a “How-To” manual that a device use to know what to do for a correct functioning.

Ok, this is not a technical explanation, but I’m not an engineer :bigsmile:


The firmware is what tells the device how to work, like the engine management system in a car.

The media table is a smaller part of the firmware, giving tunings for particular media codes.

For media with an unknown code, the drive combines a basic strategy (normally the lowest supported speed for DVD), with any parameters available from the media id or from calibration testing (not sure if it applies to DVD, but CD-R has 100 power calibration test spots, where the drive will test at laser powers a few steps either side of the level reported by the ATIP, choosing the best result).

The media itself, shows the drive the tracking detail using the pregroove modulation - it may be called something else in DVD +/-, but the principle is the same - a blank media is far from blank, unlike some early mechanical recording technologies.


A firmware just has the BASIC functions to make a drive or device working, quite working.
Of course it would also require proper software.


Could anybody point me to where I can learn to decipher which is the most recent firmware revision? I’ve got an Hitachi-LG GWA-4028B, I’ve seen the Sony site, with a firmware that upgrades it to 8x and Dual Layer support here

That’s version A206.

But over at the they have firmwares based on A039 and A03D.

I can’t figure out which would be the newest [and thus inclusive of the features that were in the previous firmware], or even if these firmwares represent consecutive releases.

And if that isn’t bad enough, I can’t get the Sony one to install on my Computer, since it isn’t a Sony Viao PCV-RS43M

Any help would be appreciated.


Hitachi-LG® GWA-[B]4082[/B]B DVD-RW drives

your present firmware is the one that determines what might work


do firmwares alter the coded instructions to your drive’s ICs (chip)? and if your installation was interrupted, you can never use your optical drive again? like on smartphones? or just any other software that could be uninstalled?