Part of the Internet technologies glossary:

An IPv6 address is a 128-bit alphanumeric string that identifies an endpoint device in the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) addressing scheme.

In more precise terms, an IPv6 address is 128 bits long and is arranged in eight groups, each of which is 16 bits. Each group is expressed as four hexadecimal digits and the groups are separated by colons.

Here's an example of a full IPv6 address: 

FE80:CD00:0000:0CDE:1257:0000:211E:729C

That address can be shortened, however, because the addressing scheme allows the omission of any leading zero, as well as any sequences consisting only of zeroes. Here's the short version:  

FE80:CD00:0:CDE:1257:0:211E:729C

It has been a concern for some time that the IPv4 addressing scheme was running out of potential addresses. The IPv6 format was created to enable the trillions of new IP addresses required to connect not only an ever-greater number of computing devices but also the rapidly expanding numbers of items with embedded connectivity. In the Internet of Things (IoT) scenario, objects, animals and people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

IPv6 expands the available address space sufficiently to enable anything conceivable to have an IP address. The number of potential IPv6 addresses has been calculated as: 

340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456

According to Computer History Museum docent Dick Guertin, that number allows an IPv6 address for each atom on the surface of the planet-- with enough left over for more than 100 more similar planets.

This was last updated in September 2013
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • BPEL (Business Process Execution Language)

    - BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) is an XML-based language that enables task-sharing in a distributed computing or grid computing environment.  (SearchSOA.com)

  • respawning cookie

    - A respawning cookie is a standard HTTP cookie backed up by data stored in additional files that are used to rebuild the original cookie when the user visits the originating site again. A 2009 study... (WhatIs.com)

  • Flash cookie

    - Flash cookies, also known as local shared objects (LSO), are text files stored on a user’s hard drive when a browsers requests content that's supported by Adobe Flash. (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Internet technologies

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet technologies, including definitions about port numbers, standards and protocols and words and phrases about how the Internet works.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.