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Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) / IP Next Generation (IPng)
Since 1981, TCP/IP has been built
4 of the Internet Protocol. IPv4 was created
when the giant, world-wide Internet we take for granted today was just
a small experimental network. Considering how much the Internet has
grown and changed over the course of two decades, IPv4 has done its
job admirably. At the same time, it has been apparent for many years
that certain limitations in this venerable protocol would hold back
the future growth of both Internet size and services if not addressed.
Due to the key role that IP plays,
changing it is no simple feat. It means a substantial modification to
the way that nearly everything in TCP/IP operates. However, even though
we find change difficult, most of us know that it is necessary. For
the last several years, development of a new version of IP has been
underway, officially called Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)
and also sometimes referred to as IP Next Generation or IPng.
IPv6 is poised to take over from IPv4, and will be the basis for the
Internet of the future.
In this section I provide a detailed
description of IP version 6. Since IPv6 is still IP just like IPv4,
it performs the same functions: addressing, encapsulation, fragmentation
and reassembly, and datagram delivery and routing. For this reason,
the subsections and topics in this discussion of IPv6 are patterned
after the subsections in the section on IPv4. They include a discussion
of IPv6 concepts and issues, coverage of IPv6 addressing and data packaging,
and a look at how version 6 does fragmentation, reassembly and routing.
Background Information: Since IPv6 represents the evolution of IP, many of its concepts of operation are built upon those introduced in IPv4. To avoid unnecessary duplication, this section has been written with the assumption that the reader is familiar with the operation of IPv4, especially addressing and how datagrams are packaged and delivered. If you have not read the section on IPv4, reviewing it first would be wise, because the description of IPv6 focuses on how it differs from the current IP version.
Related Information: You may wish to refer to the sections on ICMP (part of which is ICMPv6ICMP for IPv6) and the IPv6 Neighbor Discovery (ND) protocol, since these are companions of sort to IPv6. However, it is not necessary.
Note: IPv6 is obviously still under development, and as such, writing a section such as this one is like trying to hit a moving target. This is probably why most TCP/IP guides don't say much about IPv6it keeps changing! I think it is important, so I have described it as defined on the date of publishing. However, since changes are being made to both IPv6 standards and implementation every month, there is a higher probability of information in this particular section being out of date. (I had to make several revisions even prior to publishing the first version of this Guide!)
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The TCP/IP Guide (http://www.TCPIPGuide.com)
Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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