The client broadcasts (MAC and IP) a BOOTP request. If a Cisco router sees this, has a helper address coded, and is forwarding UDP port 67, it does the following:
The router places the IP address of the interface which received the broadcast in the "giaddr" field (meaning Gateway IP Address). This will be the address to which the BOOTP server will send the BOOTP response.
The router forwards this packet as an IP unicast to the IP helper address.
The BOOTP server gets the packet, finds the client's MAC address in its tables, and sends a reply with the client's IP address and boot file information.
The reply is unicast directly to the Cisco router's IP address (giaddr).
When the router receives the BOOTP response (UDP port 68), it retrieves the original client's MAC address and IP address from the data portion of the packet and sends the packet as a MAC and IP unicast out whichever interface is directly connected to the client's IP subnet (unless the "broadcast reply" bit was set by the client; in that case, it is a MAC-level broadcast).
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