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IOS XR Release Strategy and Deployment Recommendation




Suggested releases for validation and deployment in calendar year 2020 are:

Platform Release Comment
ASR9000 6.6.3 A9K-RSP440 must stay with 6.4.2 (refer to EoS-EoL notice)
CRS 6.6.3  
NCS540 6.6.3  
NCS560 6.6.3  
NCS5000 6.6.3/6.5.3 6.6.3 as satellite, 6.5.3 for all other deployments
NCS5500 6.6.3  
NCS6000 6.3.3  
XRv9000 6.6.3  

Keep your installation up to date and manage it using the CSM Server.


The purpose of this document is to help you understand the IOS XR software release strategy and help you select the optimal IOS XR release for deployment in your production network.

Generic information on IOS XR release is available in the "Guidelines for Cisco IOS XR Software"document.

This documents provides an update and a recommendation for year 2020.


Related Documentation

Software Quality Update

For us at Cisco it is very important to deliver the new features and hardware that your network requires, while at the same time maintain the high software quality. We are continuously investing efforts to improve the quality of our software and hardware. We are adjusting our culture, processes and practices to achieve that goal.

One of the key concepts in the software quality plan is the Extended Maintenance Release (EMR) introduced in IOS XR for the first time with the release 4.3.4.

Extended Maintenance Release (EMR) criteria:

  • No new software features
  • No new HW support
  • Incoming bug rate to drop by at least 90% from peak rate for that release.
  • Zero critical bugs.

By choosing the EMR for deployment, you are making the optimal choice. We will be happy to work with you on EMR early field trials or any other way to help synchronise your upgrade/migration plan with the EMR release schedule.


By selecting the EMR you are not only making sure that you are getting the best quality release, you are also selecting a release with the highest deployment rate.


Managing Your IOS XR Install Base

Keeping your IOS XR installation up to date with is very important. We continue providing software patches through Software Maintenance Units (SMUs) and Service Packs (SPs).

Manual SMU and SP install is a thing of the past since the introduction of the CSM Server. CSM Server is a web based server side automation and orchestration framework designed to ease the SW maintenance for all IOS XR platforms.

To get the glimpse of the CSM Server we highly recommend to watch the _video_. CSM Server distribution comes with a documentation included, but you can also read more about it on _supportforums_.

Another benefit of deploying EMR is that more software patches are available compared to other releases. Number of software patches (SMUs) available per release is directly proportional to the number of our customers running the release. Also, on EMR we try to provide, when technically feasible, SMUs for issues affecting the usability of IOS XR, not only for critical issues directly impacting the services. Service Packs (SPs) are also built more frequently compared to non-EMR releases.

SMU and SP concepts are explained in the "Service Pack Overview for Routers that Run Cisco IOS XR" document.

Service Packs on are built on EMR every 8 weeks. On non-EMR builds are on-demand, but never more frequent than on EMR.

64-bit vs 32-bit IOS XR

The 64-bit flavour of IOS XR is available for ASR9000 starting from XR release 6.1.2. Up to and including IOS XR major release 6.6.x,  there is no different release number for the 32-bit and 64-bit IOS XR. The 64-bit software packages are designated by the 'x64' in the package name (e.g. ASR9K-x64-iosxr-px-6.1.2.tar). Split between 32-bit and 64-bit release numbering starts with IOS XR major release 7.0.x. As a consequence, the 7.x.x releases are available only for 64-bit capable platforms. Support for 32-bit IOS XR on ASR9000 continues with 6.7.x, 6.8.x, etc.

For more information, including the required minimum hardware for running 64-bit IOS XR on ASR 9000 platform, refer to the "Cisco ASR 9000 Series IOS XR 64 Bit Data Sheet".

CSM Server contains a module that seamlessly performs the migration from 32-bit XR to 64-bit XR. We highly recommend you to watch this short demo video.

New IOS XR platforms NCS500, NCS5000 and NCS5500 only support the 64-bit flavour.


Suggestions For Year 2020

For year 2020 our aim is to continue cutting down on the time between the first feature release (e.g. 6.2.1) and its corresponding EMR. At the same time, we want the EMR to meet our internal quality criteria.

Suggested releases for validation and deployment in calendar year 2019 are:

Platform Release Comment
ASR9000 6.6.3

A9K-RSP440 must stay with 6.4.2 (refer to EoS-EoL notice).

CRS 6.6.3  
NCS540 6.6.3  
NCS560 6.6.3  
NCS5000 6.6.3  
NCS5500 6.6.3  
NCS6000 6.3.3  
XRv9000 6.6.3  


Note that 6.3, 6.4, 6.5 and 6.6 images are not  available for all XR platforms. Refer to below table for guidelines:

Platform support in XR releases 6.3.x, 6.4.x and 6.5.x
  6.3.x 6.4.x 6.5.x 6.6.x 7.0.x 7.1.x
ASR9000 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes. 64-bit Yes. 64-bit
CRS No Yes No Yes No No
NCS540 Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
NCS560 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
NCS5000 Yes Yes (satellite only) Yes Yes (satellite only) Yes Yes
NCS5500 Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
NCS6000 Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
XRv9000 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


The following table shows the IOS XR release schedule planning for year 2020.

IOS XR tentative release schedule

Disclaimer: future release dates and numbers are tentative and may change without notice.

(*) LA == Limited Availability. If you need access to this release please contact your account team at Cisco

Release FCS
6.3.2 2018-03-30 Posted
6.3.3 EMR 2018-08-29 Posted
6.4.1 2018-03-31 Posted
6.4.2 EMR Jul 2018
6.5.1 Aug 2018
Posted. LA(*)
6.6.1 Dec 2018 Posted. LA(*)
6.5.2 Jan 2019
Posted. LA(*) for some platforms. Support cycle is equivalent of an EMR.
6.5.3 EMR March 2019 Posted
6.6.2 April 2019
Posted. LA(*) for some platforms.
6.6.25 May 2019 Posted. Available only for NCS5500 and NCS540 platforms.
7.0.1 Aug 2019 Posted. LA(*) for some platforms. 64-bit IOS XR.
6.6.3 EMR   Posted. 64-bit and 32-bit IOS XR.
7.1.1 Jan 2020 Posted. 64-bit IOS XR.
6.7.1 Jan 2020 Posted. 32-bit equivalent of 7.1.1. Available only for ASR 9000.
7.0.2 EMR Q1CY20 Planned. 64-bit only.
7.1.2 Q2CY20 Planned. 32-bit equivalent of 7.1.1. Available only for ASR 9000.
6.7.2 Q2CY20 Planned. 64-bit only.


We hope you find this document useful. Happy roll-out of IOS XR!

Cisco Employee

Note: On ASR9000, Service Packs (SP) are released on average every 8 weeks on EMRs and on an on-need / on demand basis (typically for the last two releases, in this case 5.3.x & 6.1.x) 


Hi Aleksandar,

I see that the current recommended version is 6.1.4 and for 9910 x64 is supported on 6.2.1 and later versions.

What would you recommend? Should we go for 6.2.2 and X64 version or 6.1.4?



Cisco Employee

hi Pantelis,

Since the EMR on 6.2 is not expected before the end of the year, I would go with 6.1.4 because it's an EMR. The support for cXR is not going to end soon. If all the features and scale that you require are available in cXR, you don't have to rush the migration to eXR.

Hope this helps,


Cisco Employee

Hi Aleks,

from 6.4 onwards, we will have only 2 releases. FR (.1) and EMR (.2). Will both releases fulfill our quality metrics or will only the EMR fulfill the metrics?



V_V Beginner



Anyone know when would SP5 be released for 5.3.4 ? 




V_V Beginner

Bump - anyone even with a rough idea about the SP5 release timeframe ? 


hello good morning Alexander and all,


Iam about upgrading my asr9k from the version 5.3.4 to 6.1.4MD, what is the advantage of doing that?

which is the minimun requirement resource on RSP440 todo that?

what should be the bugs that i should  found and what is the bugs resolved from version 5.3.4?

what hardware should stop working or  having alarm, iam  talking about line cards and so on?

what hardware should be added and support?

Cisco Employee
Bump - anyone even with a rough idea about the SP5 release timeframe ?
mid_Jan - Feb

Hi Aleksander,


great post..can you tell me out of 6.1.4 and 6.2.3 which release should I go for our crs-3 upgrade?






I see that that 6.3.3 is expected to be the 6.3 EMR arriving ~Aug2018.

Is that still on track and would that then not be the recommended release over 6.2.3?

(the doc also mentions 6.3.3 is posted but I'm not seeing it)




Is it possible to upgrade directly from 5.3.4 to 6.4.2 on ASR9010 chassis without any potential problems? I mean "add->activate->commit" procedure, not Turboboot. Chassis is already "Trident-free"




Edit: ok, found an answer - documentation says that everything should be fine

Yes I see no reason why this should not work, but FPD upgrade after the SW
upgrade is very likely.

Details for the FCS and availability of release 6.5.15 could be added to this page since it's listed in multiple release notes and data sheets on CCO for ASR9K RSP5/SFC3 support



@Aleksandar Vidakovic

Why is the download site for the ASR9001 showing 6.4.1 as the latest release in 6.4 and 6.3.2 as the latest in 6.3? ASR9006 shows both 6.4.2 EMR and 6.3.3 EMR correctly.


Also it is unclear whether to use 6.4.2 or 6.3.3 for new deployments at this point; 6.4.2 EMR was released before 6.3.3 EMR was released. So, what to use, if neither 6.3 nor 6.4 has been previously tested - I assume 6.4.2?






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