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IPv6 is the new version of Internet Protocol (IP) based on IPv4, a network-layer (Layer 3) protocol that contains addressing information and some control information enabling packets to be routed in the network. There are two basic IP versions: IPv4 and IPv6. IPv6 is also called next generation IP . IPv4 and IPv6 are de-multiplexed at media layer. For example, IPv6 packets are carried over Ethernet with the content type 86DD (hexadecimal) instead of IPv4's 0800. This document describes the IPv6 details.IPv6 increases the IP address size from 32 bits to 128 bits, to support more levels of addressing hierarchy, a much greater number of addressable nodes and simpler auto-configuration of addresses. Scalability of multicast addresses is introduced. A new type of address called an any cast address is also defined, to send a packet to any one of a group of nodes. 

Two major improvements in IPv6 versus v4:

(i) Improved support for extensions and options: IPv6 options are placed in separate headers that are located between the IPv6 header and the transport layer header. Changes in the way IP header options are encoded to allow more efficient forwarding, less stringent limits on the length of options and greater flexibility for introducing new options in the future.

(ii) Flow labelling capability: A new capability has been added to enable the labelling of packets belonging to particular traffic flows for which the sender requests special handling, such as non-default Quality of Service or real-time service.

(i) Version: Internet Protocol Version number (IPv6 is 6).

(ii) Priority: Traffic class field enables a source to identify the desired delivery priority of the packets. Priority values are divided into ranges - traffic where the source provides congestion control and non-congestion control traffic.

(iii) Flow label: Flow label is used by a source to label those products for which it requests special handling by the IPv6 router. The flow is uniquely identified by the combination of a source address and a non-zero flow label.

(iv) Payload length: The length of the data portion of the packet.header. 

(vi) Hop limit: It is decremented by one by each node that forwards the packet. The packet is discarded if the Hop Limit is decremented to zero.

(v) Next header: It identifies the type of header immediately following the IPv6

(vii) Source address: 128-bit address of the originator of the packet.

(viii) Destination address: 128-bit address of the intended recipient of the packet (possibly not the ultimate recipient, if a Routing header is present).

The following are special IPv6 addresses:

(i) Unspecified address: The unspecified address (0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0 or :) indicates the absence of an address. It is equivalent to the IPv4 unspecified address of 0.0.0.0. The unspecified address is typically used as a source address for packets attempting to verify the uniqueness of a tentative address. The unspecified address is never assigned to an interface or used as a destination address.


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