An IP is an Internet Protocol. So basically it is an Internet Protocol version six. The most recent one. This protocol was designed and developed in 1995 and it started being implemented by the 2000's by all mayor computer brands and servers. Right now, your computer is most likely compatible with IPv6. But it is probably not being used as only 30-40% of the world uses IPv6. Maybe your ISP has not upgraded yet, sometimes they do not even need to invest that much on IPv6's. Most modern switches are compatible with IPv6 and actually, IPv6 is more efficient than IPv6.
We are running out of IP addresses. In the 1970's when IP's were first designed they were not thought or meant to be used by 7 billion people! Actually, in the 1970's there were 3 billion 700 million people on earth. So if you were to design a protocol it seemed reasonable. The only problem is that the population has duplicated since then and it is expected to grow at a fast pace.
Now, we do not need to blame the creators of the good old v4. When designing a protocol the efficiency of such is extremely important. Computers were not as powerful. They were using floppy disks and processors often broke down all the time. Computers were big huge rooms with limited functionality. So in the time if you think: Why would I design something that probably will never ever be used? Why get more addresses than what we need? So they did what they thought was right for the time and appropriate. And actually, this has allowed us to be here and now 50 years later with millions of connected devices.
This is a big topic about IPv6. Think about it. An IPv4 has 4 billion possible addresses and as such the size in bits is 32. So when you have something exponential bigger with 4 times as much space required 128 bits. But this does not necessarily mean that IPv6 is less efficient. Let us talk about it.
When talking about IPv4 we have a header size of 20-40 bytes or around 160bits. Now, when the information goes through a router, the whole information needs to be processed by the routers. They also have to calculate a CRC (cyclic redundancy check) for the header of every single packet. Now, bear in mind that in average servers receive thousands of packets per second. So even one bit makes a huge difference in savings.
On IPv6, there is a security layer that does the "CRC" called IPsec and there are additional upper security layers. So not every time that a packet is sent, calculations need to be done to check for its integrity. IPv6 is just more efficient and fixed at a size of 40 bytes.
That the new protocol is more efficient, it does not mean it needs less computational power. It just means it can do more with less. Now, IPv6 has added functionality and flexibility that require more complex and demanding routing computations.
IPv6 has additional functionality that can help improve security. These are done through "extension headers". These headers can be used to fragment packets, specify the route a packet should take or include instructions for each router to process. IPsec and destination options are also included as extension headers. So this work as an "add-on".
Another great new functionality related to IPv6 is the automatic configuration. When in a network, IPv6 nodes can automatically determine the information they need by the use of Neighbor Discovery that lets an individual node solicit information about routers and servers on the local link. So another positive thing about this, is that whenever you change of ISP or IPv6 address, it all happens automatically. You will not need to go server by server changing it.
Why are we still stuck on v4 then?
Well, basically because why change when everything seems to work just "fine"? Or that is the thought of big corporations. For now, IPv4 is still available and works just fine. The bad part, is that is has become an investment and it is not working as it should be working. Now it is the highest bidder gets the most IP's. Normally, IP's just used to be as expensive as the local internet registry wanted. Now, it is a bidding war and a market, because LIR's have enabled it. Now, IP's must not be returned but can be kept as an investment and sold.
So let me put it in a. list for you:
- It is profitable.
- It just works.
- No inter-compatibility between v4 and v6.