IPv6 - Internet Protocol v6

IP Addresses - Illustration
IP Addresses - Illustration.

IPv6 is the next generation protocol for Internet networking. IPv6 expands on the current Internet Protocol standard known as IPv4. Compared to IPv4, IPv6 offers better addressing, security and other features to support large worldwide networks.

In IPv6, IP addresses change from the current 32-bit standard and dotted decimal notation to a new 128-bit address system. IPv6 addresses remain backward compatible with IPv4 addresses.

For example, the IPv4 address "192.168.100.32" may appear in IPv6 notation as "0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:C0A8:6420" or "::C0A8:6420".

The most obvious benefit of IPv6 is the exponentially greater number of IP addresses it can support compared to IPv4. Many countries outside the U.S. suffer from a shortage of IP addresses today. Because IPv6 and IPv4 protocols coexist, those locales with an address shortage can easily deploy new IPv6 networks that work with the rest of the Internet. Experts believe it will take many more years before all networks fully change over to IPv6.

Other benefits of IPv6 are less obvious but equally important. The internals of the IPv6 protocol have been designed with scalability and extensibility in mind. This will allow many different kinds of devices besides PCs, like cell phones and home appliances, to more easily join the Internet in future.

IPv6 Address Types

IPv6 does not use classes.

IPv6 supports the following three IP address types:

  • unicast
  • multicast
  • anycast

Unicast and multicast messaging in IPv6 are conceptually the same as in IPv4. IPv6 does not support broadcast, but its multicast mechanism accomplishes essentially the same effect. Multicast addresses in IPv6 start with 'FF' (255) just like IPv4 addresses.

Anycast in IPv6 is a variation on multicast. Whereas multicast delivers messages to all nodes in the multicast group, anycast delivers messages to any one node in the multicast group. Anycast is an advanced networking concept designed to support the failover and load balancing needs of applications.

IPv6 reserves just two special addresses: 0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0 and 0:0:0:0:0:0:0:1. IPv6 uses 0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0 internal to the protocol implementation, so nodes cannot use it for their own communication purposes. IPv6 uses 0:0:0:0:0:0:0:1 as its loopback address, equivalent to 127.0.0.1 in IPv4.

Also Known As: IPng (Internet Protocol Next Generation)