Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Look out pipsqueak IPv4 there s a new IP boss in town

Author: ITS

Posted on Oct 13, 2011

Category: Geek Speak , General Interest

IPv6Did you ever think the world would run out of telephone numbers? Ok, so we might still have a while to go before that happens, but we are getting close to running out of the numbers computers use to talk to each other.

Computers don't understand website address names, like www.unb.ca, so they use a "phonebook" to convert that name to a number or address they do understand. The current version of these "phone numbers" is called IPv4 or Internet Protocol version 4. IPv4 has been around for many years, but the world is quickly running out of these numbers (which is pretty impressive considering that IPv4 allows for up to 4,294,967,26 (232) different addresses!).

With the increasing number of devices connecting to the Internet every day, a solution to this problem had to be found. Lots of short term fixes have been put in place, but the long term solution was to come up with a new version of numbering.

IPv6 (don't ask what happened to version 5) was designed to provide a larger address space to accommodate future growth. It has the potential to provide 2128 (approx. 340 undecillion or 3.4x1038) addresses. That number is hard to imagine, but if you think of the size of IPv4 address space as the size of an iPhone, then the size of the IPv6 address space would be the size of the Earth.

UNB hasn't implemented IPv6 just yet, but more and more devices are coming with IPv6 built-in, so it will just be a matter of time before it gets turned on. This means instead of the 65,536 (216) IPv4 addresses UNB's Fredericton campus is currently allocated, we will be bumped up to an impressive 309,485,009,821,345,068,724,781,056 (288) IPv6 addresses.