Difference between IPv4 and IPv6

With the advent of Internet, there was a flow of information between the computers through Internet Protocol. IP Addresses were assigned to group of organizations/institutions to open up communication channels between computer networks. This kind of allocation was done through IPv4 Protocol. With the growing technology, there were growing demands of more such addresses for which the IPv4 was understated. Now, there has been news all around about IPv6 setup due to the scantiness of IPv4. But then what is it all about? What is the difference between Ipv4 and IPv6? Why is there a version change to the Protocol?

What is Internet Protocol?

In order to communicate with other computers connected through Internet, and to establish connection between networks, a set of protocols were designed by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in 1970. They are: One is TCP (Transfer Control Protocol), and the other is IP (Internet Protocol) which are jointly known as TCP/IP. IP defines the technical format of data packets and the addressing scheme for computers to communicate over a network. It facilitates the data transmission from one computer to another, where each computer is identified with a unique number called IP address.


The IPv4 Overview

The IPv4 (Internet Protocol v4) defined by The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), was the first version of internet protocol which was deployed in 1981. Its version is ‘4’ because the revision of this system was done four times. It is connectionless protocol (makes logical connection by allocating identification to each network device) used in setting communications between the computers. The addresses are set to 32 bit in length (Both the source and the destination address). The IPv4 allows 232 IP addresses which means, with 32 bit address, around 4,294,967,296 computers can be connected to internet.


The precincts set to IPv4
  • Addresses Unused: Though IPv4 addresses seems to quite big in number (32 bit) but its allocation and usage were not efficient enough to withstand the growing internet traffic across the countries and devices (Mobile, Laptops etc.) in general. Many addresses allocated to various organizations were hardly used. With the allocation and the exhaustion of the limited space, the future growth of Internet was at stake.
  • Security Threat: This is again an issue with IPv4. Though there were security to the IPv4 packets (Address allocation) but then the Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) with respect to data being viewed or manipulated over the networks, raised a cause of concern as the encryption is optional.
  • Quality of Service (QoS): The IPv4 Type of field (TOS) has to undergo lot of interpretation to the packets for a better and timely delivery of data. Due to its restricted feature, the QoS is also impacted


Why IPv6 and not IPv5?

In 1980s, the IPv5 was used as an experimental protocol. It was never deployed and was also termed as streaming protocol. So the successor immediate to IPv4 was IPv6.


The IPv6 Overview

The IPv6 (Internet Protocol v6) defined by The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), developed the IPv6 in the year 1998 and since then, there were many augmentation including IPv6 for mobile specifications. The addresses in IPv6 are set to 128 bits which that more IP addresses can be allocated to computers and devices connected to internet. The addresses are well structured for routers to understand in order to interpret the packets (QoS) and deliver the data to its destinations.


The major benefits to the adoption of IPv6
  • Addresses addressed: As it use 128 bits for an IP address, it can accommodate some trillion addresses.
  • Security well treated: The built-in security (IPSec) with respect to network security is taken care of by IPv6.  Encryption of data via IPSec, is obligatory in IPv6.
  • Qualified Quality of Service: The IPV6 header has a well defined structure that identifies the flow of packets (Flow Label Field) and thereby directs it to the router. Since there is an identification to the traffic, it qualifies for the QoS


The Difference between IPv4 and IPv6
IPv4 IPv6
The address space is 32 bits. The address space is 128 bits.
 The length of header is 20 bytes The length of header is 40 bytes
4 bytes for each address in the header 16 bytes for each address in the header
The number of header field 12 The number of header field 8
Checksum field, used to measure error in the header, required Checksum field eliminated from header as error in the IP header are not very crucial
Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) with respect to network security is optional Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) with respect to network security is mandatory
No identification to the packet flow (Lack of QoS handling). The Flow level field on the header portion identifies the packet flow and directs to router (Efficient QoS handling).
The fragmentation is done both by sending host and routers The fragmentation is done both by sending host; there is no role of the routers.
Clients have to approach Dynamic Host Configuration Server (DHCS) whenever they connect to a network. Clients do not have to approach any such server as they are given permanent addresses.


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