IPv6, or Internet Protocol version 6, is the latest version of the Internet Protocol (IP). As you may know, an IP is a unique address that serves as a means of identifying and locating computers on networks as well as routing traffic across the Internet. Every machine connected to the Internet is assigned one such address.
This new version of IP is designed to have several advantages over the current IP version, version 4. IPv6 addresses the main problem of IPv4, which is the exhaustion of addresses to connect computers or host in a network. One of the main benefits of IPv6 is that it supports 128-bit address space. By operating on a larger address-space scheme, IPv6 has the capability to provide unique addresses to each and every device attached to the Internet.
You may be wondering why a change is necessary. IPv4 can accommodate most addressing needs, but as the industry expands, in the wireless domain, more than a billion mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), and other wireless devices will require Internet access, and thus each will need its own unique IP address.
IPv6 addresses come in three flavors, or categories: Unicast, Multicast and Anycast.
Unicast addresses act as identifiers for a single interface. When an IPv6 packet is sent to a Unicast address, it gets delivered through the interface attached to that address.
Multicast addresses act as identifies for a group/set of interfaces that belong to different nodes. An IPv6 packet sent to this type of address is delivered to the multiple interfaces.
Anycast addresses act much like multicast addresses, except that when an IPv6 packet destined for such an address, it is delivered to one of the interfaces identified by the address, instead of all of them.
Besides the improvements in terms of address-space, IPv6 also differs from IPv4 in terms of notation. Instead of 32-bit numbers, expressed as four octets, separated by a period, IPv6 addresses consists of eight groups of hexadecimal quartets separated by colons, like so: 2001:cdba:0000:0000:0000:0000:3257:9652. Any of the four-digit groups of zeroes in the address can be omitted and thus the address becomes much shorter, but just as valid.
Although many devices still use the old IP version, more and more web hosting providers include IPv6 connectivity as an integral part of their web hosting packages, because it is a healthy long-term measure to be taken before IPv6 becomes entirely unworkable.
As part of our continuous improvement strategy, TrueHoster has implemented IPv6 over all its infrastructure. Every client will receive an IPv6 address along the IPv4 address, and it can be used straight away.