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IPv4 / IPv6

An IPv4 address


In IPv4 an address consists of 32 bits which limits the address space to 4294967296 (232) possible unique addresses. IPv4 reserves some addresses for special purposes such as private networks (~18 million addresses) or multicast addresses (~270 million addresses).
IPv4 addresses are canonically represented in dot-decimal notation, which consists of four decimal numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255, separated by dots, e.g., Each part represents a group of 8 bits (octet) of the address. In some cases of technical writing, IPv4 addresses may be presented in various hexadecimal, octal, or binary representations.


The gap in version sequence between IPv4 and IPv6 resulted from the assignment of number 5 to the experimental Internet Stream Protocol in 1979, which however was never referred to as IPv5.


The rapid exhaustion of IPv4 address space, despite conservation techniques, prompted the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to explore new technologies to expand the Internet's addressing capability. The permanent solution was deemed to be a redesign of the Internet Protocol itself. This next generation of the Internet Protocol, intended to replace IPv4 on the Internet, was eventually named Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) in 1995. The address size was increased from 32 to 128 bits or 16 octets. This, even with a generous assignment of network blocks, is deemed sufficient for the foreseeable future. Mathematically, the new address space provides the potential for a maximum of 2128, or about 3.403×1038 unique addresses.

An IPv6 address

The new design is not intended to provide a sufficient quantity of addresses on its own, but rather to allow efficient aggregation of subnet routing prefixes to occur at routing nodes. As a result, routing table sizes are smaller, and the smallest possible individual allocation is a subnet for 264 hosts, which is the square of the size of the entire IPv4 Internet. At these levels, actual address utilization rates will be small on any IPv6 network segment. The new design also provides the opportunity to separate the addressing infrastructure of a network segment — that is the local administration of the segment's available space — from the addressing prefix used to route external traffic for a network. IPv6 has facilities that automatically change the routing prefix of entire networks, should the global connectivity or the routing policy change, without requiring internal redesign or renumbering.

The large number of IPv6 addresses allows large blocks to be assigned for specific purposes and, where appropriate, to be aggregated for efficient routing. With a large address space, there is not the need to have complex address conservation methods as used in Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR).

Many modern desktop and enterprise server operating systems include native support for the IPv6 protocol, but it is not yet widely deployed in other devices, such as home networking routers, voice over IP (VoIP) and multimedia equipment, and network peripherals.

(IPv4 / IPV6 - ipv4 / ipv6)