Every one knows that every machine connected to the Internet has a unique address and that is called as IP Address or IP in short. And since the evolution of Internet in early 80’s we been using the IPv4 or the Internet Protocol version 4, to assign unique addresses to every computer on the internet.
In this post I am going to tell you some of the basics that can be really easy to understand. Before we actually make any difference between IPv4 and IPv6, we need to know some of the basics of IPv4. And finally I will tell you the difference between these two at the basic level.
To begin with, let us check the IP address of our computer - it looks something like this: 127.128.165.255.
Looking at it for the first time makes no sense, but actually it does to all the routers that does the processing.
And here is how:
The IP address 127.128.165.255 equals 01111111100000001010010111111111.
If you count the number of bits it equals 32. Therefore any IPv4 address is 32-bit long.
How is the conversion done?
The 32-bit 01111111100000001010010111111111 is broken down into 4 chunks each of 8 bits.
It thus becomes: 01111111-10000000-10100101-11111111.
Now when each 8 bit chunk is converted into decimal and separated by a dot (.), it becomes 127.128.165.255. The last possible address on IPv4 is 255.255.255.255.
Now when you are assigning each computer with a unique IP address, the possible numbers are 2 power 32 equals approx 4.29 billion. Therefore only 4.29 billion people on earth will be able to then use the Internet. However there are 5.5 billion mobile phones already! In this way, this addressing system is beginning to get exhausted. To overcome this the IPv6 or the Internet Protocol version 6 was introduced.
IPv6 is 128 bit long address and is called as a successor of IPv4 and is deployed to upgrade the internet protocol. As we have seen, IPv4 is separated by a dot each after 3 intervals. In case of 128 bit IPv6, the separation is done using colon (:).
Therefore an IPv6 address looks like this : 3aae:1901:4545:3000:200a:fff:fe21:6741
The total number of possible addresses using IPv6 is so long that, every machines including phones, computers, refrigerators, ovens and so on can have a unique address now
Here is the video that will help you understand the concept.
To check out whether you are already on IPv6, click here.
This post on how to Enable or Disable IPv6 to solve Internet connectivity problems in Windows may also interest you.