IPv6

IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol. This is a communication protocol which provides an identification and location system for computers or devices on networks and routes traffic across the internet. This version of Internet Protocol is a set of specifications from the internet engineering task force that is really an upgraded version of the IPv4. Since this is the latest version, it is used to identify different devices over the internet so that they can be located. IPv6 is sometimes referred to as the "next generation internet" because it has expanded capabilities and the growth of IPv6 will allow current development to go through more recent and modern large scale deployments.[1] This version uses 128 bits, unlike the previous version known as IPv4 that only uses 32 bits for the IP address.

There are similar basic characteristics between IPv6 and IPv4. Currently, different devices use IPv6 as a source and destination addresses in order to pass packets over a network and tools such as ping work for network testing as what the users also do with IPv4 with just minimal variations.[2] IPv6 has been in the works for years in order to address the lapses and fall downs of IPv4 addresses.

Functionality

The latest version IPv6 utilizes a special feature that is called auto-configuration. This works to look for and assign IP address configuration to hosts for the network. It can be stateful, such as DHCPv6, and it can also be stateless. This special feature helps in a way that it allows different devices of a network to address themselves with a link-local unicast address. It is a very common idea that every device on an Ethernet network has an interface address. The process starts with the network router that obtains the network device, prefix interface address, or the physical Mac address; and it goes on to add its own prefix interface address. It has to be remembered, all the time, that IPv6 address is 64 bits in length and the mac address is 48 bits. Thus, there is an extra 16 bits and these extra 16 bits will be added at the center of the mac address with the FFFE in order to complete the auto-configuration feature of the Ethernet device’s IPv6 address. Thus, IPv6 is really well equipped with so much improved features and limitless opportunities, unlike IPv4.

Types

The following are the types of IPv6 addresses:

Global Unicast address

This type of IPv6 address is globally unique to the internet. This is similar to IPv4’s public addresses. It is routable on the internet and it has 2 parts: subnet ID and an interface ID.[3] It shares the same address format as an IPv6 anycast address. This address is assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

Unique local address

This address has a similar purpose with IPv4’s private address. This is the address that can be used inside an enterprise company at multiple sites. This is also not intended to be routed on the public internet. This address is the replacement of site-local address which allows communication within the site while being routable to several local networks.

Unicast address

This refers to one-to-one IPv6 address. This simply means that packets address to a unicast address is destined for a single interface only.

Anycast

This is similar to a multicast address with only a slight difference. This is used to address packets meant for multiple interfaces but it sends packets to the first interface it will find as what is defined in the routing distance.

This refers to a private address that is not meant to be routed on the internet. This type of IPv6 address can be used locally by private or temporary local area networks (LAN) to share and distribute the files among different devices on the LAN.

Multicast address

This refers to one-to-many. With this type, the packets are delivered to all interfaces that will be identified by the multicast address.[4]

IPv4 and IPv6 Comparision

The following are the differences between IPv6 and IPv4:

Characteristics IPv4 IPv6
Bit Address Length 32-bit 128-bit
Address Configuration Supports manual and DHCP address configuration Supports auto and renumbering address configuration
End-to-end connection integrity capability Unachievable Achievable
Address representation In Decimal Hexadecimal
Checksum field Available Not Available
Encryption and Authentication Not Provided Provided

IPv4

Furthermore, the latest IPv6 offers more feature. It simplifies aspects of address configuration, network renumbering, and router announcements. It also simplifies processing of packets in routers through placing the responsibility for packet fragmentation into the endpoints. It can handle packets more efficiently, improves performance and increases security. And it allows internet service providers to reduce the size of the routing tables by making them more hierarchical.[5]

With this, the fast growth of mobile devices including mobile phones, computers, and wireless handled devices has created a need for additional blocks of IP addresses that is why IPv6 is really beneficial in a lot of ways. A key enhancement over IPv4 is native support from mobile devices. With IPv6, it supports the mobile IPv6 protocol that really enables different mobile devices to switch between different networks and receive a roaming notification without any regard of the physical location. The IPv6 protocol really improves the IPv4 with increase authentication and privacy measures. Through this way, IPv6 can really provide an efficient end to end framework of security for transferring the data at the host or at the network level.[6] The deployment of the latest IPv6 is really growing worldwide. The full replacement of the old IPv4 will really take some time as it still remains the most and common widely used version of the Internet Protocol.

History

Recently, the internet protocols that are built into modern systems rely on more complex and intricate technologies that are based on developments made from the ARPANET’s (Advanced Research and Project Agency Network) NCP (Network Control Program) Protocol. Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn are known as the forefathers of TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol).[7] Working with the TCP, IP was introduced as a datagram that did not rely on a connected protocol, but instead contained a header and a payload. The header encoded the source and destination addresses of the data packet while the payload carried the actual data. Cerf and Kahn worked with the US Department of Defense Agency in ping the first major version of the IP that is still currently widely used - IPv4.[8]

More specifically, IPv4 was first deployed in 1983 for the production in the ARPANET. IPv4 is described in IETF publication RFC 791 in 1981 replacing an earlier definition in 1980. However, the US government came to a realization that the IPv4 address presented a limited set of addresses, only around 4 billion possible combinations, for the 7 billion people in the world and started on a newer version that is now being integrated into existing networks - the IPv6. When IPv6 was intended to replace IPv4, IPv6 had become a draft standard for the IETF in1998. Subsequently, it was ratified as an internet standard on July 14, 2017.


  1. https://whatismyipaddress.com/ip-v6 ↩︎

  2. https://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/IPv6-Internet-Protocol-Version-6 ↩︎

  3. https://study-ccna.com/ipv6-global-unicast-addresses/ ↩︎

  4. http://www.orbit-computer-solutions.com/types-of-ipv6-addresses/ ↩︎

  5. https://www.networkworld.com/article/3254575/what-is-ipv6-and-why-aren-t-we-there-yet.html ↩︎

  6. https://whatismyipaddress.com/ip-v6 ↩︎

  7. https://www.colocationamerica.com/blog/history-of-ip-address-part-2-tcp-ip ↩︎

  8. https://www.colocationamerica.com/ip-services/ipv4.htm ↩︎