NCS5500 Things to Know / Q&A

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You can find more content related to NCS5500 including routing memory management, VRF, URPF, ACLs, Netflow following this link.

NCS5500 (and some other XR platforms): Good to Know

We frequently see the same questions around the NCS5500 platform and its software. Individually, they probably don’t deserved a dedicated article, so we create this specific post to relay them and bring some answers.

We will keep this one updated regularly.


  • 2018-07-09: First version
  • 2018-07-11: Add link to software center, and fix the optics support URL
  • 2018-07-26: Add section on PIDs + section on the scale per LC / systems
  • 2019-04-18: Add RSFEC/ER4L section

Understanding IOS XR Releases

First, you may have heard that IOS XR exists in two flavors, the 32-bit and the 64-bit versions. In the case of an ASR9000, you may use one or the other but with care since some hardware may not be supported in one or the other. For the NCS5500, things are simpler: it only supports the 64-bit version. We introduced the platform with IOS XR 6.0.0 and in 64-bit only.

Note: platforms are not necessarily “participating” in all “trains”. For instance, the 6.4.x is available for XRv9000 and ASR9000 but not for the NCS5500. NCS5500 portfolio can use 6.0.x, 6.1.x, 6.2.x and 6.3.x. It will be part of the 6.5.x with the upcoming release 6.5.1 for example.

Image name format

The format used in IOS XR releases naming is always following X.Y.Zz

X, Y, Z meaning are detailed in this CCO web page. For example 6.1.3, 6.1.31 and 6.2.25.

It’s an unwritten rule that x.y.z5 are “business releases” that are bringing the same features than x.y.z but with many bug fixes. Therefore, 6.2.25 is coming after 6.2.2 but pre 6.2.3 (even if 3<25)

x.y.z1, x.y.z2 or x.y.z3 (like 6.1.31) are releases built specifically with a group of features and most of the time with a specific list of customers. They are supposed to be ran with a defined and scoped use-case. They are usually not available on the Cisco Software Download web site.

What means EFT, GA, etc…

Different images are qualified with these acronyms:

  • FCS stands for First Customer Shipment: it’s the official image build published on the software center.
  • EFT stands for Early Field Trial: it a precode provided to specific customers for an approved test case. It’s an image built and tested specifically for an usage. It can only be given to customers via their account team and in agreement with the BU/Engineering.
  • LA means Limited availability and is usually referring to images available for specific customers, images you will not find on the Cisco Software download website.
  • GA stands for General Availability and refers to images available to all customers. Examples: 6.1.3, 6.2.25, 6.2.3, 6.3.2.
  • EMR means Extended Maintenance Release and represents a specific images in a train which will be supported for longer time.

Specific release per NCS5500 platform?

We have a single image for the NCS5500 entire family, regardless it’s a fixed-form system or a chassis, could it be 4, 8 and 16 slots, and regardless of the forwarding ASIC (Qumran-MX, Jericho or Jericho+).


Pick the link to 5508 image as indicated above, it’s the link to all systems, not only for 5508.

Understanding Product IDs

Each router, each part and each license has its own PID and it could be confusing.

First, the PID finish with an equal character (“=”) represents a spare part.

Second, very ofter you will not find in the ordering or maintenance tool the same PID that the one you see in your router when using “show platform”. It’s because the tool are using the “bundle PID” made of the product itself and the RTU (right to use) license.

RP/0/RP0/CPU0:TME-5508-1-6.3.2#sh platform
Node              Type                       State             Config state
0/1/CPU0          NC55-36X100G-A-SE          IOS XR RUN        NSHUT
0/1/NPU0          Slice                      UP
0/1/NPU1          Slice                      UP
0/1/NPU2          Slice                      UP
0/1/NPU3          Slice                      UP
0/2/CPU0          NC55-36X100G               IOS XR RUN        NSHUT
0/2/NPU0          Slice                      UP
0/2/NPU1          Slice                      UP
0/2/NPU2          Slice                      UP
0/2/NPU3          Slice                      UP
0/2/NPU4          Slice                      UP
0/2/NPU5          Slice                      UP
0/6/CPU0          NC55-24H12F-SE             IOS XR RUN        NSHUT
0/6/NPU0          Slice                      UP
0/6/NPU1          Slice                      UP
0/6/NPU2          Slice                      UP
0/6/NPU3          Slice                      UP
0/7/CPU0          NC55-24X100G-SE            IOS XR RUN        NSHUT
0/7/NPU0          Slice                      UP
0/7/NPU1          Slice                      UP
0/7/NPU2          Slice                      UP
0/7/NPU3          Slice                      UP
0/RP0/CPU0        NC55-RP(Active)            IOS XR RUN        NSHUT
0/RP1/CPU0        NC55-RP(Standby)           IOS XR RUN        NSHUT
0/FC0             NC55-5508-FC               OPERATIONAL       NSHUT
0/FC1             NC55-5508-FC               OPERATIONAL       NSHUT
0/FC3             NC55-5508-FC               OPERATIONAL       NSHUT
0/FC5             NC55-5508-FC               OPERATIONAL       NSHUT
0/FT0             NC55-5508-FAN              OPERATIONAL       NSHUT
0/FT1             NC55-5508-FAN              OPERATIONAL       NSHUT
0/FT2             NC55-5508-FAN              OPERATIONAL       NSHUT
0/SC0             NC55-SC                    OPERATIONAL       NSHUT
0/SC1             NC55-SC                    OPERATIONAL       NSHUT

The line cards NC55-36X100G-A-SE is oftened seen in the CCO tool as NC55-36X100G-A-SB.
NC55-36X100G-A-SB being a bundle made of:

  • NC55-36H-SE-RTU (right to use license)
  • NC55-36X100G-A-SE (line card)

Let’s summarize the product IDs in this chart:

NCS-5508NCS5500 8 Slot Single Chassis 
NCS-5516NCS5500 8 Slot Single Chassis 
NCS-5504NCS5500 4 Slot Single Chassis 
NC55-RPNCS 5500 Route Processor 
NC55-SCNCS 5500 System Controller 
NC55-PWR-3KW-ACNCS 5500 AC 3KW Power Supply 
NC55-PWR-3KW-DCNCS 5500 DC 3KW Power Supply 
NC55-5508-FANNCS 5508 Fan Tray 
NC55-5508-FCNCS 5508 Fabric Card 
NC55-5516-FANNCS 5508 Fan Tray 
NC55-5516-FCNCS 5516 Fabric Card 
NC55-5504-FANNCS 5504 Fan Tray 
NC55-5504-FCNCS 5504 Fabric Card 
NC55-36X100GNCS 5500 36X100GE BASENC55-36X100G-BA / NC55-36X100G-U-BA
NC55-36X100G-SNCS 5500 36x100G MACsec Line CardNC55-36X100G-BM / NC55-36X100G-U-BM
NC55-24X100G-SENCS 5500 24x100G Scaled Line CardNC55-24X100G-SB
NC55-18H18FNCS 5500 18X100G and 18X40GE Line CardNC55-18H18F-BA
NC55-24H12F-SENCS 5500 24X100GE and 12X40GE Line CardNC55-24H12F-SB
NC55-36X100G-A-SENCS 5500 36x100G-SE Line CardNC55-36X100G-A-SB / NC55-36X100G-U-SB
NC55-6x200-DWDM-SNCS 5500 6x200 DWDM MACsec Line CardNC55-6X2H-DWDM-BM / NC55-2H-DWDM-BM
NC55-MOD-A-SNCS 5500 12X10, 2X40 & 2XMPA Line Card Base, MACSecNC55-MOD-A-BM
NC55-MPA-1TH2H-S1X200G CFP2 + 2X100G QSFP28 MPA 
NC55-MPA-12T-S12X10G MPA 
NCS-5501NCS 5501 Fixed 48x10G and 6x100G Chassis 
NCS-5501-SENCS 5501 - 40x10G and 4x100G Scale Chassis 
NCS-1100W-ACFWNCS 5500 AC 1100W Power Supply Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NCS-1100W-ACRVNCS 5500 AC 1100W Power Supply Port-S Exhaust/Back-to-Front 
NCS-950W-DCFWNCS 5500 DC 950W Power Supply Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NCS-1100W-DCRVNCS 5500 DC 1100W Power Supply Port-S Exhaust / Back-to-Front 
NCS-1100W-HVFWNCS 5500 1100W HVAC/HVDC Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NCS-1100W-HVRVNCS 5500 1100W HVAC/HVDC Port-S Exhaust / Back-to-Front 
NCS-1RU-FAN-FWNCS 5500 1RU Chassis Fan Tray Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NCS-1RU-FAN-RVNCS 5500 1RU Chassis Fan Tray Port-S Exhaust / Back-to-Front 
NCS-5502NCS5502 Fixed 48x100G Chassis 
NCS-5502-SENCS5502 - 48x100G Scale Chassis 
NC55-2RU-FAN-RVNCS 5500 Fan Tray 2RU Chassis Port-S Exhaust / Back-to-Front 
NC55-2RU-FAN-FWNCS 5500 Fan Tray 2RU Chassis Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NC55-2KW-DCRVNCS5500 DC 2KW Power Supply Port-S Exhaust/Back-to-Front 
NC55-2KW-DCFWNCS 5500 DC 2KW Power Supply Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NC55-2KW-ACRVNCS 5500 AC 2KW Power Supply Port-S Exhaust / Back-to-Front 
NC55-2KW-ACFWNCS 5500 AC 2KW Power Supply Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NCS-5502-FLTR-FWNCS 5502 Filter Port-side exhaust / Back-to-Front 
NCS-5502-FLTR-RVNCS 5502 Filter Port-Side intake / Front-to-back 
NCS-55A1-24HNCS55A1 Fixed 24x100G chassis bundleNCS-55A1-24H-B
NC55-A1-FAN-FWNCS 5500 Fan Tray 1RU Chassis Port-S Intake / Front-to-back Port-Side intake 
NC55-A1-FAN-RVNCS 5500 Fan Tray 1RU Chassis Port-S Exhaust / Back-to-Front Port-side exhaust 
NCS-55A1-36H-SNCS55A1 Fixed 36x100G Base chassis bundleNCS-55A1-36H-B
NCS-55A2-MOD-SNCS 55A2 Fixed 24X10G + 16X25G & MPA Chassis 
NC55-1200W-ACFWNCS 5500 AC 1200W Power Supply Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NC55-930W-DCFWNCS 5500 DC 930W Power Supply Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NC55-A2-FAN-FWNCS 5500 Fan Tray 1RU Chassis Port-S Intake / Front-to-back Port-Side intake 
NC55-MPA-1TH2H-S1X200G CFP2 + 2X100G QSFP28 MPA 
NC55-MPA-12T-S12X10G MPA 
NCS-55A2-MOD-HD-SNCS 55A2 Fixed 24X10G + 16X25G & MPA Temp Hardened Chassis 
NC55-900W-ACFW-HDNCS 5500 AC 900W Power Supply Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NC55-900W-DCFW-HDNCS 5500 DC 900W Power Supply Port-S Intake / Front-to-back 
NC55-MPA-4H-HD-S4X100G QSFP28 Temp Hardened MPA 

Understanding NCS5500 slot numbering

Line cards count starts from 0, from top to bottom.


Products, ASICs and route scale

With Qumran-MX, Jericho, Jericho+ with Jericho-scale, Jericho+ with large LPM, with or without eTCAM, it’s not easy to remember which ASIC is used in the various LC and systems and what is the routing scale they can reach.

The following chart will help clarifying it:

PIDASIC type# of ASICsRoute Scale
NC55-36X100GJericho w/o eTCAM6786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NC55-36X100G-SJericho w/o eTCAM6786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NC55-24X100G-SEJericho with eTCAM4786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM + 2M in eTCAM
NC55-18H18FJericho w/o eTCAM3786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NC55-24H12F-SEJericho with eTCAM4786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM + 2M in eTCAM
NC55-36X100G-A-SEJericho+ with NG eTCAM44M in eTCAM
NC55-6x200-DWDM-SJericho w/o eTCAM2786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NC55-MOD-A-SJericho+ w/o eTCAM1786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NC55-MOD-A-SE-SJericho+ w/ eTCAM1786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM + 4M in eTCAM
NCS-5501Q-MX w/o eTCAM1786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NCS-5501-SEJericho with eTCAM1786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM + 2M in eTCAM
NCS-5502Jericho w/o eTCAM8786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NCS-5502-SEJericho with eTCAM8786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM + 2M in eTCAM
NCS-55A1-24HJericho+ w/o eTCAM2786k in LEM + 1M-1.3M in LPM
NCS-55A1-36H-SJericho+ w/o eTCAM4786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NCS-55A1-36H-SE-SJericho+ with NG eTCAM44M in eTCAM
NCS-55A2-MOD-SJericho+ w/o eTCAM1786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NCS-55A2-MOD-HD-SJericho+ w/o eTCAM1786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM
NCS-55A2-MOD-SE-SJericho+ w/o eTCAM1786k in LEM + 256-350k in LPM + 4M in eTCAM

Each ASIC is associated by 4GB of GDDR5 memory (total is the multiplication of number of NPU by 4GB).
The buffer size is not related to the -SE or non-SE aspect (it’s not related to TCAM).
For more details, refer to Lane’s whitepaper:

Supported optics

The first link to bookmark is the following: Select the interface type and then NCS5500.

But what about the third party optics?

We are not preventing any optic to work on the system. No PID check similar to classic XR. Therefore, no special cli is needed to enable similar to classic XR or NxOS. But the behaviour is not guaranteed. Some optics may use non-standard features and we can not guarantee whether it will work as expected or not. Check the Third Party Components - Cisco Policy for the official company position on the matter.

Ethernet only on grey interfaces

The NCS5500 is only ethernet capable ?

Indeed, no frame-relay or SDH/Sonet technologies supported on these ASICs

The NCS5500 is LAN-Phy only?

It’s true with the exception of the modular systems and line cards (NCS55A2-MOD and NC55-MOD LCs). With these particular systems, we offer MPAs supporting WAN-Phy and OTN framing too.


Do you support breakout cable options?

Yes, depending on the optic type, it’s possible to configure 4x10G or 4x25G

RP/0/RP0/CPU0:NCS5500(config)#controller optics 0/0/0/2
RP/0/RP0/CPU0:NCS5500(config-Optics)# breakout 4x10

It doesn’t need a reload to be enabled.

Some optics like the SR4 can be natively broke out in 4x10G. Some others will need specific optics like the 4x10G LR. Check the pdf linked above for all options. 25G is only supported on the Jericho+ platforms.

Do you support all the features on ports in breakout mode?

Yes, no restriction

Can you mix breakout ports and “normal” ports on the same NPU

Yes, no restriction in the combination of ports on a given NPU

Interface identification

In QSFP based systems or line cards, we support multiple types of interfaces.

If you insert a QSFP28, the port will be seen as HundredGig 0/x/y/z

  • the first value describe the rack-id for multi-chassis. Since we don’t support MC on this platform, it will always be 0
  • x being the slot number, starting from the top of the chassis with 0
  • y being the position inside a modular line card (NC55-MOD***), if it’s a non-MOD card, it will be 0
  • z being the port position in the line card or the system
  • This xrdocs post detailed the ports for each platform

If you insert a QSFP+, the port will be seen as FortyGig 0/x/y/z by default

  • same description for x, y and z
  • depending on the optic type, it may be possible to configure the breakout option. In this case, the port will appear as TenGig 0/x/y/z/w. You notice a fifth tuple to describe the interface position. Check the configuration needed above in this article

If you insert a QSA optic (QSFP to SFP Adaptor), the port will appear as TenGig 0/x/y/z


We support ER4-Lite optics in NCS5500 and it needs error correction (FEC) on both ends to reach to 40Km.
RS-FEC is enabled by default, so nothing specific is required to activate the feature.

You could verify with:

RP/0/RP0/CPU0:router#show controllers HundredGigE0/0/0/13 all | in Forward
Forward error correction: Standard (Reed-Solomon)

You could turn it off to interop with a remote optics that do not have RS-FEC on:

RP/0/RP0/CPU0:router(config)#interface HundredGigE <0/2/0/8>
RP/0/RP0/CPU0:router(config-if)#fec ?
base-r   Enable BASE-R FEC
none     Disable any FEC enabled on the interface
standard Enable the standard (Reed-Solomon) FEC
RP/0/RP0/CPU0:router(config-if)#fec none


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