The gap in version sequence between IPv4 and IPv6 resulted from the assignment of version 5 to the experimental Internet Stream Protocol in , which however was never referred to as IPv5.
For this purpose, an IP address is recognized as consisting of two parts: the network prefix in the high-order bits and the remaining bits called the rest field , host identifier , or interface identifier IPv6 , used for host numbering within a network. The term subnet mask is only used within IPv4. In this, the IP address is followed by a slash and the number in decimal of bits used for the network part, also called the routing prefix. For example, an IPv4 address and its subnet mask may be An IPv4 address has a size of 32 bits, which limits the address space to 4 2 32 addresses.
IPv4 addresses are usually represented in dot-decimal notation , consisting of four decimal numbers, each ranging from 0 to , separated by dots, e. Each part represents a group of 8 bits an octet of the address. In some cases of technical writing, [ specify ] IPv4 addresses may be presented in various hexadecimal , octal , or binary representations.
In the early stages of development of the Internet Protocol, the network number was always the highest order octet most significant eight bits. Because this method allowed for only networks, it soon proved inadequate as additional networks developed that were independent of the existing networks already designated by a network number. In , the addressing specification was revised with the introduction of classful network architecture. Classful network design allowed for a larger number of individual network assignments and fine-grained subnetwork design.
The first three bits of the most significant octet of an IP address were defined as the class of the address.
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Three classes A , B , and C were defined for universal unicast addressing. Depending on the class derived, the network identification was based on octet boundary segments of the entire address. Each class used successively additional octets in the network identifier, thus reducing the possible number of hosts in the higher order classes B and C. The following table gives an overview of this now obsolete system. Classful network design served its purpose in the startup stage of the Internet, but it lacked scalability in the face of the rapid expansion of networking in the s.
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Today, remnants of classful network concepts function only in a limited scope as the default configuration parameters of some network software and hardware components e. Early network design, when global end-to-end connectivity was envisioned for communications with all Internet hosts, intended that IP addresses be globally unique. However, it was found that this was not always necessary as private networks developed and public address space needed to be conserved. Today, such private networks are widely used and typically connect to the Internet with network address translation NAT , when needed.
Three non-overlapping ranges of IPv4 addresses for private networks are reserved. Any user may use any of the reserved blocks. Typically, a network administrator will divide a block into subnets ; for example, many home routers automatically use a default address range of In IPv6, the address size was increased from 32 bits in IPv4 to bits, thus providing up to 2 approximately 3.
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This is deemed sufficient for the foreseeable future. The intent of the new design was not to provide just a sufficient quantity of addresses, but also redesign routing in the Internet by allowing more efficient aggregation of subnetwork routing prefixes. This resulted in slower growth of routing tables in routers.
The smallest possible individual allocation is a subnet for 2 64 hosts, which is the square of the size of the entire IPv4 Internet. At these levels, actual address utilization ratios will be small on any IPv6 network segment. The new design also provides the opportunity to separate the addressing infrastructure of a network segment, i. IPv6 has facilities that automatically change the routing prefix of entire networks, should the global connectivity or the routing policy change, without requiring internal redesign or manual renumbering.
The large number of IPv6 addresses allows large blocks to be assigned for specific purposes and, where appropriate, to be aggregated for efficient routing. With a large address space, there is no need to have complex address conservation methods as used in CIDR. All modern desktop and enterprise server operating systems include native support for the IPv6 protocol, but it is not yet widely deployed in other devices, such as residential networking routers, voice over IP VoIP and multimedia equipment, and some networking hardware.
Just as IPv4 reserves addresses for private networks, blocks of addresses are set aside in IPv6. The addresses include a bit pseudorandom number that minimizes the risk of address collisions if sites merge or packets are misrouted. Early practices used a different block for this purpose fec , dubbed site-local addresses.
This address type was abandoned and must not be used in new systems. Addresses starting with fe , called link-local addresses , are assigned to interfaces for communication on the attached link. The addresses are automatically generated by the operating system for each network interface.
This provides instant and automatic communication between all IPv6 host on a link. This feature is used in the lower layers of IPv6 network administration, such as for the Neighbor Discovery Protocol.
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IP addresses are assigned to a host either dynamically as they join the network, or persistently by configuration of the host hardware or software. Persistent configuration is also known as using a static IP address. In contrast, when a computer's IP address is assigned each time it restarts, this is known as using a dynamic IP address. DHCP is the most frequently used technology for assigning addresses. It avoids the administrative burden of assigning specific static addresses to each device on a network. It also allows devices to share the limited address space on a network if only some of them are online at a particular time.
Typically, dynamic IP configuration is enabled by default in modern desktop operating systems.
The address assigned with DHCP is associated with a lease and usually has an expiration period. If the lease is not renewed by the host before expiry, the address may be assigned to another device. Dialup and some broadband networks use dynamic address features of the Point-to-Point Protocol. Computers and equipment used for the network infrastructure, such as routers and mail servers, are typically configured with static addressing.
In the absence or failure of static or dynamic address configurations, an operating system may assign a link-local address to a host using stateless address autoconfiguration. A sticky dynamic IP address is an informal term used by cable and DSL Internet access subscribers to describe a dynamically assigned IP address which seldom changes.
The addresses are usually assigned with DHCP. Since the modems are usually powered on for extended periods of time, the address leases are usually set to long periods and simply renewed. If a modem is turned off and powered up again before the next expiration of the address lease, it often receives the same IP address. Address block These addresses are not routable and, like private addresses, cannot be the source or destination of packets traversing the Internet.
When the link-local IPv4 address block was reserved, no standards existed for mechanisms of address autoconfiguration. An IP address conflict occurs when two devices on the same local physical or wireless network claim to have the same IP address.
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A second assignment of an address generally stops the IP functionality of one or both of the devices. Many modern operating systems notify the administrator of IP address conflicts. IP addresses are classified into several classes of operational characteristics: unicast, multicast, anycast and broadcast addressing. It normally refers to a single sender or a single receiver, and can be used for both sending and receiving. Usually, a unicast address is associated with a single device or host, but a device or host may have more than one unicast address.
Sending the same data to multiple unicast addresses requires the sender to send all the data many times over, once for each recipient. Broadcasting is an addressing technique available in IPv4 to address data to all possible destinations on a network in one transmission operation as an all-hosts broadcast.
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All receivers capture the network packet. The address In addition, a more limited directed broadcast uses the all-ones host address with the network prefix. For example, the destination address used for directed broadcast to devices on the network IPv6 does not implement broadcast addressing, and replaces it with multicast to the specially defined all-nodes multicast address. A multicast address is associated with a group of interested receivers.
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