Billions of devices communicate with each other on daily basis to send and receive data. For instance, when you access a website, you’re communicating with the server computer hosting the website. You send a request for the website and the server sends the relevant data to you.
You type the website’s domain in your web browser, which, then asks the DNS server to resolve the IP address of the server where the website is hosted. Then a connection is established with the server and a request for website data is made. The website then gets loaded on your web browser.
Where does the IP addresses come from?
These addresses, which look like 127.0.0.1, are the internet protocol addresses assigned to every device which connects to the internet. An IP address is the identity of a device on the internet. It is also useful in routing the internet traffic to and from that device. The data travels in the form of packets having the source and destination IP address in their header which enables them to reach the correct device [This mean using TCProtocol].
The IP addresses are defined according to the Internet Protocol, included in the Internet Protocol Suite, which is a set of rules to manage how the data packets travel across the internet and reach their destination. Now, for instance, you send 10 packets to a destination. Each packet will know the destination IP address but it’s possible that the packets may take different paths to reach the destination, may not reach in the correct order, or may not reach at all. This is because IP is a connection less protocol. It doesn’t care about the integrity of the data sent over the network.
The connection-oriented Transmission Control Protocol “TCP”, also a part of the Internet Protocol Suite, comes in for the rescue operation. TCP ensures that your packets end up safely on the destination computer. It establishes a connection between two communicating devices on the internet and keeps an eye on the order and reliability of the data packets reaching the end device. That’s why the IP is referred as the TCP/IP.
The IPv4 or the Internet Protocol version 4 was originally used in the ARPANET. Although, it’s the fourth generation of the Internet Protocol but it is the first major version of the Internet Protocol that finds its application for most of the internet. There is newer IPv6 which is in the process of being deployed.
According to IPv4, the IP addresses are actually in binary numbers in the form of 0s and 1s. But they can also be written as decimal numbers separated by a dot. This is done to ensure that they don’t bounce over our heads. The IPv4 uses a 32-bit address space which is equivalent to 4 bytes. It means that the total number of IP addresses on the internet can go all the way to 2^32. That’s roughly 4.3 billion addresses.
2^32 is a big number but it isn’t enough to accommodate the rising population of internet connected devices like laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. Hence, the IPv6 protocol has been brought into existence. It has a big address space of 128-bits. And the total number of unique addresses are 2^128. So, the limit of IP addresses goes beyond the reach for many decades or maybe centuries.
The 128-bit IPv6 address looks a bit different than the IPv4 address. Each group separated by a colon (instead of a dot) represents 16-bits in the form of four hexadecimal digits . The 64 bits of the IPv6 address represent the network address which is used for routing and the rest 64 bits give details about the host’s network interface.
What’s the difference: IPv4 vs IPv6 ?!
The main difference between the IPv4 and IPv6 is their address space which takes IPv6 ages ahead of the IPv4 protocol. But it isn’t the only difference between the two. There are other things that make IPv6 a better option for the internet.