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IPv6: Definition, Benefits, and Differences from IPv4

Last updated: Aug 15, 2023

What is IPv6?

IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol version 6, a network protocol designed to identify and connect devices within a computer network.

This protocol serves as the successor to IPv4, which has been the standard for network addressing in previous years. IPv6 was designed as a solution to address the limitations of IP addresses in IPv4.

In IPv4, IP addresses consist of 32 bits, allowing for the existence of up to 4.3 billion unique addresses.

However, with the rapid growth of internet-connected devices, the number of available IPv4 addresses has slowly been depleting.

As a result, IPv6 is the answer to addressing this issue since it uses 128-bit IP addresses, enabling a significantly larger number of address combinations, totaling around 340 undecillion (the number 34 followed by 38 zeros).

Benefits of IPv6

This internet protocol is an evolution of IPv4 that comes with several important benefits for the development of computer networks. Here are some of them:

1. More Efficient Routing

Compared to IPv4, IPv6 has a smaller routing table size. Additionally, the protocol has another advantage in the form of fragmentation processing handled by source devices.

These advantages make routing more efficient and hierarchical, thus improving overall network performance.

2. More Efficient Packet Processing

In this internet protocol, some header fields are simplified by removing unnecessary parts. This accordingly allows packet processing in network devices to run more efficiently and actively contributes to improved performance and throughput. 

3. Directed Data Flow

Multicast is a technique for sending bandwidth packet streams to multiple destinations simultaneously.

Internet Protocol version 6 employs this technique by optimizing routing, reducing latency, and speeding up data dissemination to destinations.

4. Simpler Network Configuration

Internet Protocol version 6 is one of the network protocols that introduces SLAAC (Stateless Address Autoconfiguration).

The presence of this element helps a device generate an IP address based on the network prefix provided by the router automatically.

In this context, automated IP address allocation reduces administrative burdens. Moreover, this automation process also supports simplifying network configuration processes more comprehensively.

5. Security

IP version 6 is a protocol designed with a focus on security. This is because the protocol includes header fields that support encryption and data integrity through IPsec.

This feature provides additional protection against potential hacking attacks and data misuse. Thus, you can think of it as a shield that fends off hackers and keeps data from being used the wrong way.

6. Better Scalability

With the rapid growth in the number of devices connected to the Internet, IP address availability becomes a major issue in IPv4.

Internet Protocol version 6 is designed with a larger scale compared to IPv4 to address this problem by providing a much larger pool of IP addresses

This ensures that the network continues to function optimally even as the number of connected devices increases.

7. NATting Problem Resolution

In IPv4 networks, Network Address Translation (NAT) is often required to connect multiple devices to the internet using a single public IP address. This affects network performance and increases configuration complexity.

In order to address this issue, Internet Protocol version 6 has an extensive addressing space which can eliminate the need for NAT.

8. Internet of Things (IoT)

With the proliferation of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), the demand for IP addresses has increased significantly.

Accordingly, Internet Protocol version 6 provides a solution to this issue because, with IP version 6, each IoT device can have a unique IP address.

9. Improved and Better Mobility

In today's world, networks are always on the move. This causes devices to often jump between different connection points. 

Hence, Internet Protocol version 6 comes with its own tools to help with this mobility, making it easier for devices to switch from one network to another smoothly without a hitch.

IPv6 VS IPv4, What is The Difference?

IPv4 and IPv6 are two versions of Internet Protocols commonly used to identify and connect devices within a network. If you are wondering what is the difference between IPv6 VS IPv4, you have come to the right source!

It's important to note that each version has significant differences. The differences between IPv6 vs IPv4 are explained in the followings: 

1. Addressing

IPv4 address consists of 32 bits and is usually expressed in a decimal format like "192.168.1.1". This format comprises four octets, each with a value ranging from 0 to 255.

On the other hand, the IPv6 address consists of 128 bits and is expressed in a hexadecimal format like "2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334". In an implementation, the hexadecimal format represents values within the range of 0 to F.

2. Header Fields

In IPv4, header fields have a fixed size and contain information such as source and destination addresses, TTL (Time to Live), and checksum.

In contrast, Internet Protocol version 6 is a network protocol with simpler header fields and a fixed size. The header fields also have a simpler structure because some elements that are no longer needed will be removed or moved to extension options.

3. Classes

While IPv4 uses the A, B, and C class systems to allocate IP addresses, version 6 employs classless concepts based on aggregation and subnetting.

4. Configuration

DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is the manual configuration used by IPv4 to assign IP addresses to devices.

On the other hand, IPv6 is a protocol that supports automatic configuration through SLAAC (Stateless Address Autoconfiguration).

5. VLSM

VLSM (Variable Length Subnet Masking) is an element in IPv4 that uses subnet masks of varying lengths within the same network.

Meanwhile, in IPv6, this element is no longer used due to the presence of a more extensive addressing design.

6. Routing Protocol Information

IPv4 uses routing protocols like RIP, OSPF, and BGP to send information. On the other hand, IP version 6 has its own routing protocols, namely OSPFv3 and BGP4+, designed specifically to support IP addresses.

7. Network Configuration 

It's important to note that there are various configuration variations in IPv4. This can sometimes lead to configuration issues and the need for Network Address Translation (NAT) insertion.

To address this, Internet Protocol version 6 is a protocol designed to reduce configuration complexity, avoid IP address exhaustion issues, and eliminate dependency on NAT.

8. SNMP

SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is still used by IPv4 for network management. However, this element is no longer used in version 6.

9. Mapping

IPv4 still requires NAT to map multiple private IP addresses to public addresses.

In contrast, Internet Protocol version 6 no longer requires this element due to the abundance of IP addresses.

10. QoS

IPv4 still uses Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritize packet processing and bandwidth arrangement for TCP/IP applications, meanwhile version 6 no longer supports the use of this element.

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