IPv6 Motivation and Overview
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IPv6 represents the first major change to the Internet Protocol since IPv4 was formalized in 1981. For many years, its core operation was defined in a series of RFCs published in 1998, RFCs 2460 through 2467. The most notable of these are the main IPv6 standard, RFC 2460 (Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification), and documents describing the two helper protocols for IPv6: RFC 2461, which describes the IPv6 Neighbor Discovery Protocol, and RFC 2463, which describes ICMP version 6 (ICMPv6) for IPv6.
In addition to these, two documents were also created in 1998 to discuss more about IP addressing: RFC 2373 (IP Version 6 Addressing Architecture) and RFC 2374 (An IPv6 Aggregatable Global Unicast Address Format). Due to changes in how IPv6 addressing was to be implemented, these were updated in 2003 by RFC 3513 (Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) Addressing Architecture) and RFC 3587 (IPv6 Global Unicast Address Format).
Many other RFCs define more specifics of how IPv6 functions, and also describe IPv6-compatible versions of other TCP/IP protocols like DNS and DHCP. IPv6 is still very much a work in progress with new standards for it being proposed and adopted on a regular basis.
Since IPv6 is the version of IP designed for the next generation of the Internet, it is also sometimes called IP Next Generation or IPng. Personally, I don't care for this name; it reminds me too much of Star Trek: The Next Generation. A great show that my wife and I watch regularly, but still. Regardless of its name, IPv6 or IPng was designed to take TCP/IP and the Internet where none have gone before. (Sorry, I had to! J)
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