Wednesday, February 10, 2010

IPv6 Theory

I started the last chapter of the CCNP Study Guide book today which is about implementing IPv6 (IP Version 6).IPv6 is a technology developed to overcome the limitations of the current standard, IP Version 4 (IPv4). The major shortcoming of IPv4 is its limited amount of address space. With the amount of IP enabled devices growing at a steady rate, many regions throughout the world are seeing a need for more IP addresses. In the United States, the Department of Defense (DoD) is a primary driver for the adoption of IPv6 and has set a date of 2008 for all systems with the US government to be set to this standard.

IPv6 allows for better scalability with networks and supplies what seems like a limitless amount of IP addresses to use. IPv6 provides the following enhancements:

  • Larger address space - IPv6 address are 128 bits which is 4 times larger than IPv6's size of 32 bits. IPv4 had approximately 4,200,000,000 possible address while IPv6 has 3.4 x 10(38) possible addresses. The number is so big that it is alot simpler to see it in arithmetic form!
  • Simplified header - IPv6 has a simpler header compared to IPv4 which allows for fast processing. IPv6 is designed in a way that check-sums aren't needed to be computed at every node unlike IPv4.
  • Support for mobility and security - Mobility and security help ensure compliance with mobile IP and IP security (IPsec) standards. IPv6 provides a standard that allows IP addresses to move across areas without breaking the established connection. IPsec is also enabled by default for all IPv6 devices. IPv4 doesn't provide either mobility or IPsec security options by default.
IPv6 has three main types of addresses that are similar and different from IPv4:
  • Unicast - Similar to an IPv4 unicast address, an IPv6 unicast address is for a single interface. Like IPv4, a subnet prefix is associated with each address. The two different types of unicast addresses are global aggregatable and link-local
  • Anycast - Is a new address type that is assigned to a set of interfaces on different devices using IPv6. A packet that is sent to an anycast address goes to the closest interface identified by thr anycast address. Therefore all nodes using the same anycast addess should provide the same type of service.
  • Multicast - An IPv6 multicast address identifies a set of interfaces on different devices. A packet sent to a multicast address is delivered to all the interfaces that is apart of that multicast group similar to IPv4.
IPv6 doesn't have broadcast address like IPv4 does. Broadcasts are replaced by multicasts and anycasts. Multicast enables efficient network operation by using a number of specific multicast groups to send requests to a limited number of computers on a network. Multicast groups prevent most of the problems that happens with broadcast storms on IPv4.

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