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What is IPv6?

About IPv6

IPv6 is short for "Internet Protocol Version 6".

IPv6 is the "next generation" protocol designed by the IETF to replace the current version Internet Protocol, IP Version 4 ("IPv4").

Most of today's internet uses IPv4, which is now nearly twenty years old. IPv4 has been remarkably resilient in spite of its age, but it is beginning to have problems. Most importantly, there is a growing shortage of IPv4 addresses, which are needed by all new machines added to the Internet.

IPv6 fixes a number of problems in IPv4, such as the limited number of available IPv4 addresses. It also adds many improvements to IPv4 in areas such as routing and network autoconfiguration. IPv6 is expected to gradually replace IPv4, with the two coexisting for a number of years during a transition period.

Many common Internet applications already work with IPv6, including Windows XP.

Text Representatin of Addresses

The preferred form to represent an IPv6 address is X:X:X:X:X:X:X:X, where each X is a hexadecimal value representing two bytes or 16 bits. The leading zeroes in an individual field may be omitted. Groups of zeroes across multiple all zero fields can be represented by ::, for example:
Full format: 2001:0db8:1000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0027
Compressed format: 2001:db8:1000::27

A special format is used to show IPv4 in IPv6 address types. This format uses both the IPv6 colon and the IPv4 period to distinguish the different sections of the address, for example: :: ::ffff:

The IPv6 address that identifies the local machine is made up an IPv6 prefix and the IPv6 Interface Identifier. The IPv6 prefix is the first part of the address, its length is variable. The prefix for the Link Local Address is FE80, and the prefix for a Global Address may be up to 64 bits long. Thus, in order to explicitly identify which part of the address is the prefix, one should use an alternate format. This format uses a forward slash followed by the prefix length in bits. The forward slash and number is appended to the address. The example below illustrates a 64 bit prefix: IPv6 Address: 2001:db8:2000:240:290:27ff:fe24:c19f/64 64bit prefix: 2001:db8:2000:240::/64


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