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These control input and output between the code running on the main processor (the IBM Power PC "Broadway" processor) and the Wii's hardware features that did not exist on the Game Cube, which can only be accessed via the ARM.
When Nintendo releases a new IOS version, except for unusual circumstances (for example security updates to block homebrew), the new IOS does not replace any IOS already installed.
Therefore, the version number reported by the Wii is actually only the version number of the System Menu.
This is why some updates do not result in a change of the version number: the System Menu itself is not updated, only (for example) IOSes and channels.
Additionally this can force an upgrade by requiring the player to perform the update, without which the new game cannot be played. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii) have come with specific extra updates, such as being able to receive posts from game-specific addresses, so, regardless of the version of the installed software, it will install an update.
which run on a separate ARM architecture processor to other Wii software (nicknamed Starlet by the Wii homebrew community, as it is physically located inside the graphics chip, the ATI Hollywood, so it is a small part of Hollywood.).
All native Wii software (including games distributed on Nintendo optical discs, the System Menu itself, Virtual Console games, Wii Ware, and Wii Channels), with the exception of certain homebrew applications, have the IOS version hardcoded into the software.
The ARM processor does not have access to the screen, and therefore neither does IOS.
This means that while a piece of software is running, everything seen on the screen comes from that software, and not from any operating system or firmware.
With downloaded software, this should not theoretically happen, as the user cannot access the shop to download software unless the player has all the IOS versions that they require.
However, if homebrew is used to forcefully install or run a piece of software when the required IOS does not exist, the user is brought back to the system menu.