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Cisco Community Designated VIP Class of 2020

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 6.4.2, 6.3.3  
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).

XR release 6.5.2 support cycle is equivalent of an EMR.

CRS 6.4.2, 6.3.3  
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
ASR9000 Yes Yes Yes Yes
CRS No Yes No No
NCS540 Yes No Yes Yes
NCS560 No No Yes Yes
NCS5000 Yes Yes (satellite only) Yes Yes (satellite only)
NCS5500 Yes No Yes Yes
NCS6000 Yes Yes No No
XRv9000 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.
6.6.3 EMR   Posted
6.7.1 Q1CY20 Planned. ASR9000 32-bit only
7.0.2 EMR Q1CY20 Planned. 64-bit only.
7.1.1 Q1CY20 Planned. 64-bit only.


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


Hello everyone

How can I know or check that the currently installed version is either 32-bit or 64-bit?



The 64-bit versions of IOS-XR tend to have "x64" in the file name, which you'll see with a "show install active summary" or "dir disk0:".

If you look at the available downloads on CCO, you'll see those versions.



Yes That was what I was thinking too. And when i checked "show install active" there is no any x64 which means it's 32-bit. 


Thank you for clearing my confusion.


Something else to check out is "show processes cpu | i q".  Since 32-bit is based on QNX, you'll see the "qnet" process in the output.

Yes. qnet is there. What about x64? 


show processes cpu | i q

Tue Sep 24 07:06:20.899 Kathmandu

16400    0%      0%       0% mqueue

16401    0%      0%       0% mq

49189    0%      0%       0% qad_server

102434   0%      0%       0% qnet

155693   0%      0%       0% qsm

213092   0%      0%       0% fab_vqi_alloc

549190   0%      0%       0% qos_ma

This is a great question.  My understanding was that the beauty of IOS-XR was it being based on the secure and simple QNX microkernel operating system.  There is a lot of detailed information regarding this in the book, "Cisco IOS XR Fundamentals".


However, I have not yet found a good comparable description/explanation of the operation of IOS-XR x64 running on top of Linux.  I assume it is still a microkernel OS in some form, but how is that accomplished within Linux?  Containers?  What is the IPC method?

Even the traditional Cisco Live presentation, BRKARC-2003, doesn't provide this information.


Hopefully, one of the Cisco folks can clear this up for both of us.

Cisco Employee



just on:


     "The 64-bit versions of IOS-XR tend to have "x64" in the file name, which you'll see with a "show install active summary" or "dir disk0:"."


One should expect such data in "show version" and also in a concerning SNMP-object. Above is true but a hack for me. My feature-request on the latter gets ignored. Even products like CSPC rely on SNMP and else need scripting to identify that detail.


Kind Regards,



32-bit XR supports the CISCO-ENHANCED-IMAGE-MIB so you can identify via SNMP that the installed packages aren't the x64 ones. E.g.: $ snmpbulkwalk router ceImageFeature CISCO-ENHANCED-IMAGE-MIB::ceImageFeature.30160112 = STRING: asr9k-px-6.4.2.CSCvp36831-1.0.0 asr9k-px-6.4.2.CSCvo03672-1.0.0 asr9k-base-6.4.2.sp2-1.0.0 asr9k-fwding-6.4.2.sp2-1.0.0 asr9k-fpd-6.4.2.sp2-1.0.0 asr9k-os-mbi-6.4.2.sp2-1.0.0 asr9k-px-6.4.2.sp2-1.0.0 asr9k-k9sec-supp-6.4.2 asr9k-k9sec-px-6.4.2 asr9k-adv-video-supp-6.4.2 asr9k-video-px-6.4.2 asr9k-service-supp-6.4.2 asr9k-services-px-6.4.2 asr9k-optics-supp-6.4.2 asr9k-optic-px-6.4.2 asr9k-mpls-px-6.4.2 asr9k-os-mbi-6.4.2 asr9k-base-6.4.2 asr9k-fwding-6.4.2 asr9k-diags-supp-6.4.2 asr9k-scfclient-6.4.2 asr9k-cpp-6.4.2 asr9k-ce-6.4.2 asr9k-mini-px-6.4.2 asr9k-mcast-supp-6.4.2 asr9k-mcast-px-6.4.2 asr9k-services-infra-6.4.2 Ironically, 64-bit XR doesn't support this MIB.
Cisco Employee



as before (and I knew such commands before and have now to write a dynamic parser on CSPC as in my view workaround), I consider that as a hack and wonder why it's not part of sth like "show version" or it's SNMP-variant, which everyone looks to. Above is a list of lines, not sth like a variable like "Cisco IOS XR Software, Version 6.5.3[Default]".


Kind Regards,



Here's an option.



os# run

Thu Sep 26 13:47:03.569 UTC

# uname -a
QNX node0_RSP0_CPU0 6.4.0 2018/07/26-08:32:40PDT asr9k-rsp x86



Thu Sep 26 14:01:32.339 UTC
[xr-vm_node0_RSP0_CPU0:~]$uname -a
Linux xr-vm_node0_RSP0_CPU0 3.14.23-WR7.0.0.2_standard #1 SMP Thu Feb 15 15:13:14 PST 2018 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux


It's less of a hack, because 64-bit is Linux-based, so that alone will tell you which version you're running, and this command will definitely return system information, rather than an arbitrary file name or other similar field.




As Andreas said, it should be displayed in show version and it doesn't seem much task to make it into sho version command. 


Thank you Phil, you have showed me different techniques to check the versions. 

Cisco Employee

Hello Phil,


I know what you mean, but that's not what I'm behind. Right now "Cisco IOS XR Software, Version 6.5.3[Default]" tells me alone it being 32b and "Cisco IOS XR Software, Version 6.5.3" is 64b, but that's a kind of if-then or above example means a script or dynamic approach not a single output/parameter.


But let's stop that direction. I wanted to express that we should have sth like "Cisco IOS XR Software, Version 6.5.3 64b" in output of show version and SNMP-OID.


Kind Regards,




Hi @Aleksandar Vidakovic, I hope you're doing well :)

I only have one short question - will we get XR 7.0.X for ASR9001 or 6.6.3 will be the last 32-bit version?


Cisco Employee
32-bit XR releases will continue to be delivered under 6.x.x. There will be 6.7.1, 6.7.2, 6.8.1, etc.
Hi Alek how are you.. regarding to 32-bit XR, I wonder if there are release date of 6.7.2, 6.8.1 and etc Best regards Javier
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