What is IPv6 Address in Networking?

What is IPv6 Address in Networking?

IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol Version 6. It is the advanced version of IPv4, launched by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force). IPv6 came into existence as a result of the exhaustion of IP addresses with the emergence of more and more IoT devices. One of the commendable characteristics of IPv6 is the amount of address space generated by them. In this article, you will learn about what is IPv6 in networking, what does an IPv6 address look like and IPv6 advantages and disadvantages.

What is IPv6 Address in Networking?

What is IPv6 Address in Networking?

IPv6 is a 128-bit alphanumeric address that identifies devices uniquely over the Internet. It is estimated to produce over 340 undecillion IP addresses. The address space used by IPv6 is four times greater than the address space used by IPv4. IPv6 addresses are made of numbers, and alphabets are divided into sets of 8 numbers called hextets. Each hextet represents 16-bits and is divided by colons (:). The numbers used range from 0-9 and the alphabets from A-F. These represent binary numbers from 000000000000 to 11111111111111. This is an example of what does an IPv6 address look like AC08:EB00:0000:0AED:5261:13BC:0012:352D.

Parts of the IPv6 Address

Since IPv6 is a 128-bit address, it is divided into two parts:

  • Network Part: The network part is the top 64-bits of the address. It is used for the purpose of routing.
  • Node Part: The Node Part is the lower 64-bits of the address. It is used to recognize the address part of the interface.

These were the parts of what is IPv6 in networking. Now let’s understand how computers read IPv6 address.

Conversion of IPv6 Addresses to Binary Code

Each character in the IPv6 address represents 4-bits. As we read earlier, an IPv6 address consists of numbers ranging from 0-9 and alphabets from A-F. These alphabets are used represent the double digit numbers from 10-15.A 4-bit hextet chart is used for the conversion of an IPv6 address to binary language.

Hextet 4-bit Chart
8 4 2 1

This chart consists of numbers that represents the value of each bit. This is the IP address – AC08:EB00:0000:0AED:5261:13BC:0012:352D that we will convert into binary language using the chart. Each bit on the hextet is either represented as 1 or 0. The first hextet is AC08. We know the value of A is 10 and C is 12. Now we have to find out what numbers from the hextet chart add up to 10, 12, 0, and 8. The numbers that add up are 8+2, 8+4, 0, and 8 represent themselves, respectively. Likewise, all the numbers that add up are represented with 1, whereas the rest of the numbers are represented with 0.

Lets convert the first hextet by using above mentioned IPv6 address.

Hextet A C 0 8
Hextet Chart 8 4 2 1 8 4 2 1 8 4 2 1 8 4 2 1
Binary Conversion 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0

So, the binary number for AC08 comes out to be 1010110000001000. Similarly, this process is carried out with all the hextets.

  Binary Conversion
Hextet Chart 8 4 2 1 8 4 2 1 8 4 2 1 8 4 2 1
EB00 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0AED 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1
5261 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1
13BC 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0
0012 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
352D 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1

Therefore, this is the binary conversion of what does an IPv6 address look like 1010110000001000:1110101100000000:0000000000000000:0000101011101101:0101010001100001:0001001110111100:0000000000010010:001101010010101

Types of IPv6 Addresses

The following are the types of what is IPv6 in networking :

  • Unicast addresses: It is the type of address that recognize the unique interface of a network. It commonly indicates a single receiver or a sender.
  • Multicast addresses: It is referred to a number of IP devices that are only meant to receive information from the data packet.
  • Anycast addresses: The devices that belong to different nodes are called Anycast addresses.

Internet Protocol Version 6 TCP IPv6 option

Also Read: How to Fix DNS Server Not Responding Error

IPv6 Packet Structure

An IPv6 packet comprises of three parts: a header, one or more extension headers, and an upper-layer Protocol Data Unit (PDU). The upper-layer PDU includes upper – layer protocol header and its payload, which can be an ICMPv6 packet, a TCP packet or an UDP packet.

Packet Header for IPv6

An IPv6 header consists of the following components:

  • Version: This is a 4-bit field, and its value is set to 6. This field determines the version of the packet.
  • Traffic Class: This is an 8-bit field. It is responsible for the handling of the data packet via intermediate devices. It consists of two parts, like IPv4. The first 6-bits and the last 2-bits are called DSCP and ECN, respectively.
  • Flow Label: Flow Label is a 20-bit field. A flow is an arrangement of packets that are exchanged between the source and the destination. It also spells out how the data packet should be handled by intermediate routers.
  • Payload Length: This is a 16-bits field. It can carry up to 65,535 bytes in length. This payload length inculcates the length of the extension header.
  • Next header: This header is an 8-bit field. This field recognises the type of first extension header that accompanies the basic IPv6 header or the protocol type upper-layer PDU.
  • Hop Limit: This field is 8-bit long. It is a set of values that are sent along with each data packet, with the motive to avoid encircling the data packet. The number value attached to each IP packet decreases by one after coming across each router on its route. As soon as the hop value reached one, the IP packet is scrapped.
  • Source Address: It is a 128-bit long field. This is meant for the address of the sender of the packet.
  • Destination Address: It is 128-bit long field. This is meant for the address of the receiver of the packet.
  • Extension headers: This is a new concept in the IPv6 packet structure. This consists of options that are rarely used, like the Hop by Hop Options Header, Routing Header, Fragment Header, Destinations Options Header, Authentication Header, and Encapsulating Security Payload Header.

Characteristics of IPv6

As you know what does an IPv6 address look like. Mentioned below are the characteristics of IPv6:

  • IPv6 has a larger address space.
  • It consists of the latest and most simplified header format.
  • Its auto-configuration properties enable inter-communication in the absence of a server.
  • It is more secure than IPv4 because of the implementation of Internet Protocol Security at the network layer.
  • Its end-to-end connectivity, with every device having its own unique address, does not require any translation support.
  • IPv6 is a streamlined header that makes quick routing decisions.
  • The mobility feature enables you to stay connected to the mobile devices.
  • IPv6 headers are extensible.

As, the characteristics of IPv6 prove to be an asset in the foreseeable future, further in the article we will see the IPv6 advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages and Disadvantages of IPv6

As we have explained about what does an IPv6 address look like in the above sections. Now, let’s take a look at the advantages of IPv6.

  • It has better Internet connectivity.
  • It is efficient enough to transfer huge and multiple data packets at once.
  • IPv6 has security support by Internet Protocol Security.
  • It allows multi-routing through multicast and anycast types of addresses.
  • IPv6 supports mobility.
  • It has excellent network configuration.
  • It provides commendable data flow among the multimedia platforms.

The following are the disadvantages of IPv6:

  • Security concerns around header manipulation, dual stacking, traffic, and mobility.
  • Configuring a DNS server is a complex procedure.
  • The shift from IPv4 to IPv6 has turned out to be very expensive.
  • It is difficult to enter the long IP address manually.

Hence, these were IPv6 advantages and disadvantages.

Also Read: Fix IPv6 Connectivity No Internet Access on Windows 10

Advantages of IPv6 over IPv4

Now, that you know about what is IPv6 in networking, what does an IPv6 address look like and IPv6 advantages and disadvantages. Here, following are the advantages of IPv6 over IPv4:

  • It provides an efficient Internet routing with the help of ISPs.
  • IPv6 provides end to end transparency by ensuring higher security and better performance.
  • In contrast to IPv4, where a checksum is required to correct errors, the IPv6 header connects the data packet directly to the transport layer, which controls errors. This, in turn, saves time and enables fast data packet processing.
  • Although both IPv4 and IPv6 are supported by the Internet Protocol Security Suite which ensures high security for the packets. But IPv6 has better firewalls and authentication modes like site-to-site for higher security and confidentiality.
  • The data flow is faster in IPv6 with the use of multicast, unlike IPv4 which uses broadcast.

IPv4 and IPv6 Together

Both the IP versions have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. There are also advantages to using them together as well. In this approach, computers and routers run both protocols. Major network vendors support this kind of approach. It is called Dual stack network. Tunneling and Network Address Translation are other approaches where the use of both IP addresses has turned out to be beneficial.

Who uses IPv6?

As stated by Google, the global implementation of IPv4 is 34%. In the US, it is said to be 46%. Internet service providers and carrier networks are among the first users of IPv6. Huge companies like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Telcom, and Comcast have shifted to Dual Stack Implementation while Microsoft, CERNET, and T-Mobile have shifted to using IPv6. Budget, complexity and time are few a factor that you should consider before deciding to migrate.

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Despite the IPv6 advantages and disadvantages, the transition towards IPv6 proves the preference of IPv6 over IPv4. We hope that our doc has guided you extremely well in learning about what is IPv6 in networking. Leave your queries or suggestions, if any, in the comments section below.

Posted by

Elon Decker

Elon is a tech writer at TechCult. He's been writing how-to guides for about 6 years now and has covered many topics. He loves to cover topics related to Windows, Android, and the latest tricks and tips.

1 Comment

  1. Is IPv6 applicable globaly ? Obviously this latter address cannot be created by users.
    I always wonder how do we get our answers. Thank for what you are doing anyway otherwise today a world without google is not possible.

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