Getting Started

HiFive Technical Details


Hardware refers to the machines, wires, and other physical parts of computers and electronic devices you can see and touch. Hardware is generally divided into two categories: internal and external hardware.

Internal hardware are the physical devices that make up the computer itself. Central processing units (CPUs), graphics processing units (GPUs), and the circuit boards that hold everything together are examples of internal hardware components.

External hardware, also sometimes accessories, are devices like keyboards, monitors, and the speaker included with the HiFive Inventor. They’re not necessary for the computer to function but make working with a computer easier and more fun.


Firmware refers to the embedded software or set of instructions that handles the basic controls of a hardware component or device. Firmware is sometimes thought of as the connection between hardware and software.


Software refers to the set of instructions or programs that tell the computer what to do. Software can range from low-level instructions, like firmware, to huge applications like web browsers and video games. Software is what you’re creating when writing programs for your HiFive Inventor to use.

Inputs and Outputs

Inputs refer to the information or data given to a computer so it can perform a task. An input device gives information to the computer. Input devices are things like computer or touchscreen keyboards, microphones, and the buttons on the HiFive Inventor board.

Outputs refer to the information or data the computer creates when processing inputs or other instructions. An output device receives information from a computer. Output devices are things like the LED display on the HiFive Inventor or the monitor you’re using to read this page.