The IP Address Difference IPv4 vs. IPv6

September 9th, 2011 by

The term IPv6 is short for Internet Protocol Version 6. IP addresses are used to identify different computers on a network. Currently, every single website or a computer connected to the internet has its own IP address. An IPv4 address is a 32-bit number, which means that there is a limit to the possible addresses that can be assigned. That limit is 2^32, which is about 4 billion. Since the number of websites and computers connected to the internet is rapidly increasing, a newer version of the internet protocol, called IPv6 was created, which supports more addresses and has certain advantages over IPv4.

What’s the difference between IPv6 and IPv4?   

As we already said, IPv4 uses a 32-bit number, which makes the number of address combinations limited to about 4 billion. IPv6 however is 128-bit, which makes the possible addresses that can be assigned 2^128, which is more than a billion addresses for every living person on the earth.

However, IPv6 was not just created for the limitless possible combinations, although that was the main reason. It has many other advantages over IPv4. IPv6 supports something called ‘multicasting’, which basically means that with one single operation, a packet can be sent to multiple destinations. This is important, as media broadcasts are becoming more and more popular, and using IPv6 can make them a lot faster and more efficient. The other big advantage of IPv6 is its header processing simplicity, which makes it faster to process by routers.

Is IPv6 currently used? 

IPv6 has been used for a few years now, but IPv4 is still the most commonly used protocol. However, the new version of the protocol is being used almost exclusively in government facilities and bodies, as well as the internal structure of ISPs, where speed and reliability is required. The full transition to IPv6 is inevitable, but it is likely to take a few more years.

What does an IPv6 address look like?

A version 6 IP address looks like this: 3afe:1342:4545:3:200:f8ea:fe41:67af. As you can see it is very different form the traditional four-part IP address. Also, it includes hexadecimal numbers, which is what makes it 128 bit.

Does the new protocol have any drawbacks?

There are several reported disadvantages of IPv6, the most common one being the high CPU-cycle usage. Although the new protocol has many advantages it does require more system resources both from the router and from the computer. That’s one of the main reasons it is still not used as much as the traditional IPv4.

We hope this helps makes some sense between the two different types of IP Addresses right now.