Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) will succeed IPv4 as the standard networking protocol of the Internet. IPv6 provides a number of advances over IPv4 but the primary reason for its replacing IPv4 is its limitation in addresses. IPv4 uses 32 bit addresses which means there is a theoretical limit of 2 to the power of 32. The IPv6 address scheme is based on a 128 bit address or a theoretical limit of 2 to the power of 128.
- IPv4 = 4,294,967,296 (over 4 billion)
- IPv6 = 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 (over 340 undecillion - We had to look that term up. We didn’t know what a number followed by 36 digits was either)
Assuming a world population of approximately 8 billion people, IPv6 would allow for each individual to have approximately 42,535,295,865,117,200,000,000,000,000 devices with an IP address. That’s 42 quintillion devices.
There is little likelihood that you will ever need to worry about these numbers as any kind of serious limitation in addressing but they do give an idea of the scope of the difference in the available addressing.
Aside from the difference of possible addresses there is also the different formatting of the addresses that will need to be addressed.
A computer would view an IPv4 address as a 32 bit string of binary digits made up of 1s and 0s, broken up into 4 octets of 8 digits separated by a period “.”
To make number more user friendly for humans we translate this into decimal, again 4 octets separated by a period “.”which works out to:
A computer would view an IPv6 address as a 128 bit string of binary digits made up of 1s and 0s, broken up into 8 octets of 16 digits separated by a colon “:”
To make number a little more user friendly for humans we translate this into hexadecimal, again 8 octets separated by a colon “:” which works out to:
Because any four-digit group of zeros within an IPv6 address may be reduced to a single zero or altogether omitted, this address can be shortened further to:
Some of the other benefits of IPv6 include:
- More efficient routing
- Reduced management requirement
- Stateless auto-reconfiguration of hosts
- Improved methods to change Internet Service Providers
- Better mobility support
- Scoped address: link-local, site-local and global address space