One of my colleague kept saying 'hopefully we do not encounter firmware issue' in a project when referring to our Cisco 9000 XR series route processor. I did not bother to ask him because he seemed confident when saying.

However, as far as I know, the IOS XR is the operating system in the route processor. Or am I mistaken?

  • Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you can provide your own answer and accept it.
    – Ron Maupin
    Aug 6, 2017 at 23:39

1 Answer 1


By using the term "firmware," your colleague is probably referring to the OS version. Cisco has multiple OS versions, and some are more problematic than others.

Firmware originally meant something else, but the term has come to mean the code running an appliance like a router or switch. It's not really correct since it is like referring to Windows as the firmware on a PC (the BIOS on a PC could be called firmware). It certainly shouldn't be used when referring to the configuration of the device.

  • yes, he certainly was referring to the ios xr version. It's totally weird to hear that kind of thing when the concept of firmware that I know is totally different. So, route processor doesn't have its own BIOS?
    – Ron Vince
    Nov 14, 2015 at 4:19
  • Cisco devices do have real firmware, too. It has just become common for people to refer to software on appliances, or what they perceive as appliances, as firmware. I hear this all the time about routers and switches. I think people use the term to distinguish between code and configuration. It's not accurate, but what can you do?
    – Ron Maupin
    Nov 14, 2015 at 14:33
  • All IOS XR systems have some type of "boot loader" - this is the layer that exists below the main operating system and can be (more or less) thought of as the equivalent of a PC's BIOS subsystem. On some systems (xr12000, early flight asr9k) the "firmware" was a very simple bootloader called ROMMON (for "ROM Monitor"). On newer systems such as the NCS-6000 the route processor has a more modern EFI/UEFI type BIOS that actually DOES look more like a PC/x86 BIOS.
    – ljwobker
    Dec 28, 2015 at 21:17

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