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WHITE PAPER

IPv6: Features and Benefits

A White Paper written by 6WIND

Point of contact: info@6wind.com


6WIND White Paper – IPv6: Features and Benefits - 05/03/2003

SUMMARY

Ø Introduction .................................................................................................... 3
ü Why IPv6? ...........................................................................................3
ü Who could benefit from using IPv6?...........................................................4
ü IPv6 features........................................................................................4
n Large Address Space .................................................................................................... 5

n New Header Format ..................................................................................................... 5

n Efficient and Hierarchical Addressing and Routing Infrastructure ........................................... 5

n Stateless and Stateful Address Configuration..................................................................... 5

n Built -in Security........................................................................................................... 5

n Built -in Mobility ........................................................................................................... 5

n Multicast Support ........................................................................................................ 5

n Better Support for QoS ................................................................................................. 5

n New Protocol for Neighboring Node Interaction ................................................................. 6

n Extensibility................................................................................................................ 6

ü IPv6 header format................................................................................6


ü IPv6 Extensions .....................................................................................7
ü IPv6 address representation .....................................................................7
ü IPv6 addressing.....................................................................................9
n Unicast Addresses ....................................................................................................... 9

• Aggregatable Global Unicast Addresses .................................................................. 9


• Local-Unicast Addresses ........................................................................................ 9
• IPv6 Addresses with Embedded IPv4 Addresses.....................................................10
n Anycast Addresses......................................................................................................10

n Multicast Addresses ....................................................................................................11

ü How to obtain an IPv6 address ............................................................... 11


ü Transition from IPv4 to IPv6................................................................... 11
ü IPv6 address auto-configuration .............................................................. 11
ü IPv6 and multicast ............................................................................... 12
ü IPv6 and privacy.................................................................................. 12
ü IPv6 routing ....................................................................................... 12
ü IPv6 and underlying technologies ............................................................ 13
ü 6WIND SixOS IPv6 features ................................................................... 13
Ø Acronyms...................................................................................................... 15

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6WIND White Paper – IPv6: Features and Benefits - 05/03/2003

Ø INTRODUCTION
IP has its roots in early research networks of the 1970s. But within the past decade, it has become the
primary vehicle for a vast array of client/server and peer-t o-peer communications, and its current scale of
deployment is straining many aspects of its twenty-years old design.
In order to fuel the growth of the Internet, the IETF has produced a set of specifications that define the next -
generation IP protocol known as "IPv6." Though it is based on much-needed enhancements to IPv4
standards, IPv6 should be viewed as a new protocol that will provide a firmer base for the continued growth
of today's Internet-works.
IPv6 is designed to improve IPv4's scalability, security, ease -of-configuration, and network management;
these issues are central to the competitiveness and performance of all types of network-dependent
businesses. IPv4 can be modified to perform some of these functions, but it is likely that the results would be
far less efficient than what would be obtained by widespread deployment of IPv6. On the other hand, IPv6
aims to preserve existing investment as much as possible.
From the beginning, IPv6 was designed to ease the integration of existing IPv4 networks and applications
with the new IPv6 ones. It is expected that IPv4 and IPv6 will coexist for many years.
The present white paper describes the features and benefits of the IPv6 protocol.

ü Why IPv6?

IPv4 has not been substantially changed since the publication of its specifications in 1981. IPv4 has proved to
be robust, easily implemented, interoperable and scalable enough to enable a global utility of the size of
today’s Internet. However, the initial design did not anticipate IP’s huge deployment, and several problems
now lead to the deployment of IPv6:
• The explosive growth of the Internet and the emerging exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. IPv4
addresses have become relatively scarce. There is no doubt that the number of addresses used will
significantly increase in the near future:
o Emerging countries will need more and more addresses to develop their economy.
o The number of equipments to be connected to the Internet such as PDAs, mobile phones,
vehicles, or home Internet appliances will require more and more addresses.
o The number of “always-on” connections is also growing. The deployment of broadband
access networks such as DSL or cable networks induces permanent connections.
o The development of peer to peer applications which require the use of stable, permanent
addresses.
The IPv4 addresses shortage has caused the deployment of several short-term solutions which
are now approaching their limits:
o The use of non-permanent addresses. This method saves addresses as they are only
allocated when needed. This method is beneficial on networks with non-permanent
connectivity such as dial-up networks. However, it harms the deployment of new services
such as push services or peer to peer on broadband access networks.
o The use of Network Address Translator (NAT). This mechanism saves addresses by
multiplexing the outbound IP traffic of a site on a small pool of IP addresses (often only one
address). However, this mechanism also brings problems with security (IPsec is not
compatible with NATs), remote management and peer to peer services.
• The growth of the Internet and the ability of Internet backbone routers to maintain large routing
tables. Because of the way that IPv4 network addresses have been and are currently allocated, there
are currently over 100,000 routes in the routing table of the Internet backbone routers. The current
IPv4 Internet routing infrastructure is a combination of both flat and hierarchical routing. With IPv6,
the routing burden is eased by the use of an aggregatable addressing scheme, and the hardware
processing of the protocol is made easier.

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• The need for simpler configuration. Most current IPv4 implementations have to be either manually
configured or use a stateful address configuration protocol such as Dynamic Host Configuration
Protocol (DHCP). With more computers and devices using IP, there is a need for a simpler and more
automatic configuration of addresses and other configuration settings.
The IPv6 stateless auto-configuration enables the deployment of unmanaged networks (for home
applications for instance) or fast evolving networks (military applications, crisis management…)
• The requirement for security at the IP level. Private communications over a public medium like the
Internet require encryption services that protect the data being sent from being viewed or modified
in transit. Although a standard now exists for providing security for IPv4 packets (known as Internet
Protocol security or IPsec), this standard is optional. The support of IPsec is mandatory in IPv6
implementations.
• The need for better support for real-time delivery of data, called as well quality of service (QoS). QoS
also exists for IPv4. Unfortunately, the IPv4 TOS field has limited functionalities and over time there
were various local interpretations. In addition, payload identification may not be possible when IP
security is in use. IPv6 keeps the existing IPv4 TOS (Traffic Class in IPv6) but it can be enriched with
the use of the flow label field in the IPv6 header.
• Efficient mobility mechanisms in IP have become critical with the apparition of new mobile devices
such as PDAs or mobile phones. IPv6 has been designed with efficient built -in mobility mechanisms.
• The arrival of multimedia applications which would be far more efficient with an effective multicast
support in IP. The support of multicast in mandatory in IPv6.
The design of IPv6 is intentionally targeted for minimal impact on upper and lower layer protocols by avoiding
the random addition of new features.

ü Who could benefit from using IPv6?

Several industry domains should benefit from IPv6:


• Data services for mobile nodes (3G mobile phones, WLAN nodes). These services will be deployed on
a very large number of nodes (hundreds of millions) which will require “always on” connectivity.
Mobile phones also often use “push” services. Permanent and stable IP addresses will then be
required in huge numbers. These services are aimed at mobile users and they imply the use of
efficient mobility mechanisms, for instance when the users moves from a WLAN to a 3G network.
• Broadband Internet access. There again, large numbers of “always-on” nodes are expected. These
services require the use of permanent and stable IP addresses.
• Home networking. Large numbers of nodes are expected in this domain. This type of networking
requires simple and robust auto-configuration features.
• Network of sensors and military applications. This domain also implies very large number of nodes
and auto-configuration features.
• Any current network where standard management is a heavy burden would benefit from IPv6.

ü IPv6 features

IPv6 offers the following features:


• Large address space
• New header format
• Efficient and hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure
• Stateless and stateful address configuration
• Built -in security
• Built -in mobility
• Multicast support
• Better support for QoS
• New protocol for neighboring node interaction
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• Extensibility
The following sections provide more detailed descriptions of these features.

n Large Address Space


IPv6 has 128-bit (16-byte) source and destination IP addresses. In addition, the large address space of IPv6
has been designed to allow for mult iple levels of sub-netting and address allocation from the Internet
backbone to the individual subnets within an organization.
Even with the most pessimistic estimate made by IP experts, IPv6 would provide 1,564 addresses for each
square meter of the surface of the planet.
With a much larger number of available addresses, address-conservation techniques, such as the deployment
of NAT, are no longer necessary.

n New Header Format


The IPv6 header has a new format that is designed to keep header overhead to a minimum. This is achieved
by moving both non-essential fields and option fields to extension headers that are placed after the IPv6
header. The streamlined IPv6 header provides more efficient processing at intermediate routers.
IPv4 and IPv6 headers are not interoperable. A host or router must use an implementation of both IPv4 and
IPv6 in order to recognize and process both header formats. The new IPv6 header is only twice as large as
the IPv4 header, even though IPv6 addresses are four times as large as IPv4 addresses.

n Efficient and Hierarchical Addressing and Routing Infrastructure


IPv6 global addresses used on the IPv6 portion of the Internet are designed to create an efficient,
hierarchical, and summarizable routing infrastructure that is based on the common occurrence of multiple
levels of Internet service providers. On the IPv6 Internet, backbone routers have much smaller routing tables,
corresponding to the routing infrastructure of Top-Level Aggregators (TLA).

n Stateless and Stateful Address Configuration


To simplify host configuration, IPv6 supports both stateful address configuration (such as address
configuration in the presence of a DHCP server) and stateless address configuration (address configuration in
the absence of a DHCP server). With stateless address configuration, hosts on a link automatically configure
themselves with IPv6 addresses for the link (called link-local addresses) and with addresses derived from
prefixes advertised by local routers. Even in the absence of a router, hosts on the same link can automatically
configure themselves with link-local addresses and communicate without manual configuration.
The same mechanism can also be used in order to configure the default router address in the hosts.

n Built -in Security


Support for IPsec is an IPv6 protocol suite requirement. This requirement provides a standards-based solution
for network security needs and promotes interoperability between different IPv6 implementations.

n Built -in Mobility


IPv6 mobility mechanisms benefit from the IPv6 aut o-configuration features and the flexibility of IPv6 header
extensions. Mobility was taken into account from the very beginning of IPv6 design, making Mobile IPv6
implementations more efficient than IPv4 ones.

n Multicast Support
From the start, multicast has also been taken into account in IPv6. Multicast support is mandatory in IPv6
implementations, and IPv6 devices are dimensioned for multicast.

n Better Support for QoS


New fields in the IPv6 header define how traffic is identified and handled. Traffic identification using a Flow
Label field in the IPv6 header allows routers to identify and provide special handling for packets belonging to
a flow, a series of packets between a source and destination. The interaction of QoS with IPsec is handled by
the IPv6 implementation, even when the packet payload is encrypted.

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n New Protocol for Neighboring Node Interaction


The Neighbor Discovery Protocol for IPv6 is based on ICMPv6 (Internet Control Message Protocol for IPv6)
and manages the interaction of neighboring nodes (nodes on the same link). Neighbor Discovery replaces the
broadcast-based Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), ICMPv4 Router Discovery and ICMPv4 Redirect
Messages. The IPv6 Dead Peer Detection is much more efficient than the ARP one.

n Extensibility
IPv6 can easily be extended for new features by adding extension headers after the IPv6 header. Unlike
options in the IPv4 header, which can only support 40 bytes of options, the size of IPv6 extension headers is
only constrained by the size of the IPv6 packet.

ü IPv6 header format

Figure 1 compares the format of IPv4 and IPv6 headers. The IPv6 header format is in fact much simpler than
the IPv4 one.

Vers = 4 IHL Type of Service Total Length


Identification Flags Fragment Offset
IPv4 TTL Protocol Header Checksum
Source Address
Destination Address
Options...

Vers = 6 Traffic Class Flow Label


Payload Length Next Header Hop Limit
Source Address

IPv6

Destination Address

Figure 1: IPv6 and IPv4 header comparison


The IPv6 header fields are:
• Vers: 4-bit Internet Protocol version number = 6. Note that this field is in the same location as the
Version field in the IPv4 header, making it simple for an IP node to quickly distinguish an IPv4
packet from an IPv6 packet.
• Traffic Class: 8-bit traffic class identifier. This is for use by DiffServ QoS.
• Flow Label: 20-bit field. In the future, this may be used for traffic identification. For the moment,
this field should be considered as a reserve for future use.
• Payload Length: 16-bit unsigned integer. Length of payload, i.e., the rest of the packet following
the IPv6 header, in bytes.
• Next Header: 8-bit selector. Identifies the type of header immediately following the IPv6 header. It
uses the same values as the IPv4 Protocol field.
• Hop Limit : 8-bit unsigned integer. Decremented by 1 by each node that forwards the packet. The
packet is discarded if hop limit is decremented to zero. The comparable field in IPv4 is the Time to
Live (TTL) field; it was renamed for IPv6 because the value limits the number of hops, not the
amount of time that a packet can stay in the network.
• Source Address: 128 bits. The address of the initial sender of the packet.
• Destination Address: 128 bits. The address of packet recipient, a multicast or an anycast address.

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ü IPv6 Extensions

IPv6 includes an improved option mechanism over IPv4. IPv6 options are placed in separate extension
headers that are located between the IPv6 header and the transport -layer header in a packet. Most IPv6
extension headers are not examined or processed by any router along a packet's delivery path until it arrives
at its final destination. This facilitates a major improvement in router performance for packets containing
options. In IPv4 the presence of any options requires the router to examine all options.
The other improvement is that unlike IPv4 options, IPv6 extension headers can be of arbitrary length and the
total amount of options carried in a packet is not limited to 40 bytes. This feature, plus the manner in which
they are processed, permits IPv6 options to be used for functions, which was not easy in IPv4. The IPv6
authentication and security encapsulation options are a good example.
To improve performance when handling subsequent option headers and the transport protocol that follows,
IPv6 options are always an integer multiple of 8 bytes long, to retain this alignment for subsequent headers.
Currently defined IPv6 extension headers are:
• Hop-by-Hop Option: Special options requiring hop-by-hop processing.
• Routing: Extended Routing (like IPv4 loose source route).
• Fragmentation: Fragmentation and Reassembly.
• Authentication: Integrity and Authentication for IPsec.
• Encapsulation: Confidentiality for IPsec.
• Destination Options: Optional information to be examined by the destination node.

ü IPv6 address representation

Due to its 128-bit length, a typical IPv6 represented in regular dotted hexadecimal address could appear as
quite long:
3FFE:0000:0000:0000:0003:F8FF:FE21:67CF

To make IPv6 addresses easier to write, the IETF has approved a few alternative ways to represent these
addresses. Leading zeros can be omitted in each field: it can be seen above where the field :0003: can be
written :3:. In addition, a colon (:) can be used once in an address to replace multiple fields of zeros. Using
the compressed notation, the previous example can be simplified to:
3FFE::3:F8FF:FE21:67CF

However, only one colon can be used per IPv6 address.


An alternative, hybrid address format has been defined to make it more convenient to represent an IPv4
address in an IPv6 environment. In this scheme, the first 96 address bits (six groups of 16) are represented in
the regular IPv6 format and the remaining 32 address bits are represented in common IPv4 dotted decimal;
for example, 0:0:0:0:0:0:199.182.20.17 ( or ::199.182.20.17).

An IPv6 address prefix is represented with the following notation:


ipv6-address/prefix-length

where prefix-length is a decimal value specifying how many of the left most contiguous bits of the
address comprise the prefix as in the following example:
3FFE:1234::/64
IPv6 introduces the concept of limited scope addresses such as link-local, site-local or global scopes (see
following sections). It also defines the concept of scope zone. For example, the set of links connected by a
router within a particular site can be defined as a zone. In that context, a single address may be used on
different links within a zone. That is why a notation has been added to indicate, if necessary, which interface
is used. The notation used for that purpose is the following:
ipv6-address%zone-id

The following example indicates that the eth0 interface will be used:
FE80::1234%eth0

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IPv6 addresses are 128-bit long and are identifiers for individual interfaces and sets of interfaces. IPv6
addresses of all types are assigned to interfaces, not nodes. A single interface may be assigned multiple IPv6
addresses of any type.
There are three types of IPv6 addresses:
• Unicast addresses identify a single interface.
• Anycast addresses identify a set of interfaces such that a packet sent to an anycast address will be
delivered to one member of the set.
• Multicast addresses identify a group of interfaces, such that a packet sent to a multicast address
is delivered to all of the interfaces in the group. IPv6 supports addresses with four times more bits
than IPv4 (128 vs. 32).
These types also exist in IPv4, but anycast and multicast support are not mandatory in IPv4. IPv4 anycast is
very limited and should only be used by routers.
There are no broadcast addresses in IPv6, their function being superseded by multicast addresses.
The specific type of IPv6 address is indicated by the leading bits in the address. The variable-length field
comprising these leading bits is called the Format Prefix (FP). The initial allocation of these prefixes is as
follows:

Fraction of
Allocation Prefix (binary) Address
Space

Unassigned 0000 0000 1/256

Unassigned 0000 0001 1/256

Reserved for NSAP Allocation 0000 001 1/128

Unassigned 0000 01 1/64

Unassigned 0000 1 1/32

Unassigned 0001 1/16

Aggregatable Global Unicast Address 001 1/8

Unassigned 010 1/8

Unassigned 011 1/8

Unassigned 100 1/8

Unassigned 101 1/8

Unassigned 110 1/8

Unassigned 1110 1/16

Unassigned 1111 0 1/32

Unassigned 1111 10 1/64

Unassigned 1111 110 1/128

Unassigned 1111 1110 0 1/512

Link Local Unicast Addresses 1111 1110 10 1/1024

Site Local Unicast Addresses 1111 1110 11 1/1024

Multicast Addresses 1111 1111 1/256

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This allocation supports the direct allocation of provider addresses, local use addresses, and multicast
addresses. The remainder of the address space is unassigned for future use. This can be used for expansion
of existing use (e.g. additional provider addresses, etc.) or new uses (e.g. separate locators and identifiers).
Note that anycast addresses are not shown here because they are allocated out of the unicast address space.
Approximately 15% of the address space is initially allocated. The remaining 85% is reserved for future use.

ü IPv6 addressing

n Unicast Addresses
There are several forms of unicast address assignment in IPv6: the aggregatable global unicast address, the
site-local-unicast address, the link-local-unicast address and the IPv4-capable host address. Additional
address types may be defined in the future.

• Aggregatable Global Unicast Addresses

Aggregatable global unicast addresses are used for global communication. Their format is:

001 Global Routing Prefix Subnet ID Interface ID


(3 bits) (45 bits) (16 bits) (64 bits)

• Format Prefix: This prefix indicates the address type, such as an aggregatable global unicast
address. Always 3 bits, coded “001”.
• Global Routing Prefix: This is the prefix that is globally routable on the Internet. One of this prefix
is provided by the ISP to each of its customer’s site. Currently, each ISP is given 32-bit long prefixes
by the local registries. It then allocates 48 bits long prefixes to each customer sites out of its prefix
space.
• Subnet ID: The subnet ID field is an identifier of a link within the site. It is used by an individual
organization to create its own local addressing hierarchy and to identify subnets. It is similar to
subnets in IPv4 except that each organization has a much greater number of subnets. The 16-bit
subnet ID field supports 65,535 individual subnets.
Organizations may choose to either route their subnet ID “flat” (e.g. not create any logical
relationship between the subnet identifiers, resulting in larger routing tables), or create a two or
more level hierarchy (resulting in smaller routing tables) in the subnet ID field.
The approach selected for structuring a subnet ID field is the responsibility of the individual
organization.
Interface Identifier: Interface identifiers are used to identify interfaces on a link. They are required to be
unique on that link. They may also be unique over a broader scope. In some cases an interface identifier will
be derived directly from that interface’s link-layer address. For all unicast addresses, except those that start
with binary value 000, interface identifiers are required to be 64-bit long and to be constructed in modified
EUI-64 format. Modified EUI-64 format-based interface identifiers may have global scope when derived from
a global token (e.g. IEEE 802 48-bit MAC or IEEE EUI-64 identifiers) or may have local scope where a global
token is not available (e.g. serial links, tunnel end-points, etc.) or where global tokens are undesirable (e.g.
temporary tokens for privacy).
• Local-Unicast Addresses

A local-unicast address is a unicast address that has only local routability scope (within the subnet or within a
subscriber network), and may have local or global uniqueness scope. They are intended for use inside a site
for “plug and play” local communication and for bootstrapping up to the use of global addresses.
Two types of local-unicast addresses have been defined: Link-local and site-local. The link-local address is for
use on a single link and the site-local one in a single site.
Link-local addresses have the following format:

1111111010 0 Interface ID
(10 bits) (54 bits) (64 bits)

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resulting in a FE80::InterfaceID address.


Link-local addresses are designed to be used for addressing on a single link for purposes such as auto-
configuration.
Site-local addresses have the following format:

1111111011 0 Subnet ID Interface ID


(10 bits) (38 bits) (16 bits) (64 bits)

resulting in a FEC0:0:0:SLA_ID::Interface_ID address.


For both types of local-use addresses, the Interface ID is an identifier that must be unique in the domain in
which it is being used. In some cases these will use a node’s IEEE-802 48-bit address. The subnet ID
identifies a specific subnet in a site. The combination of the subnet ID and the interface ID to form a local-use
address allows a large private Internet to be constructed without any other address allocation.
Local-use addresses allow organizations that are not (yet) connected to the global Internet to operate without
the need to request an address prefix from the global Internet address space. Local-use addresses can be
used instead. If the organization later connects to the global Internet, it can use its subnet ID and interface
ID in combination with a global prefix to create a global address. This is a significant improvement over IPv4,
which requires sites that use private (non-global) IPv4 addressing to be manually renumbered when they are
connected to the Internet. IPv6 does the renumbering automatically.

• IPv6 Addresses with Embedded IPv4 Addresses

IPv6 transition mechanisms include a technique for hosts and routers to dynamically tunnel IPv6 packets over
IPv4 routing infrastructures. IPv6 nodes that utilize this technique are assigned special IPv6 unicast addresses
that carry an IPv4 address in the low -order 32 bits. This type of address is called an “IPv4-compatible IPv6
address” and has the following format:

0:0:0:0:0 Compatibility bits: IPv4 address


(80 bits) 0000 (16 bits) (32 bits)

A second type of IPv6 address holding an embedded IPv4 address has also been defined. It allows to
represent an IPv4 address as an IPv6 address. This type of address is termed an “IPv4-mapped IPv6 address”
and has the following format:

0:0:0:0:0 Compatibility bits: IPv4 address


(80 bits) FFFF (16 bits) (32 bits)

n Anycast Addresses
An IPv6 anycast address is an address that is assigned to more than one interface (typically belonging to
different nodes), with the property that a packet sent to an anycast address is routed to the “nearest”
interface having that address, according to the routing protocol metrics.
Anycast addresses have several possible uses. For instance, they could be used to identify the set of routers
attached to a particular subnet, or the set of routers providing entry into a particular routing domain. The
routers belonging to an ISP all have one anycast address derived from the ISP’s prefix. This address can then
be used by customers in order to select their ISP. These addresses can also be used in order to locate the
nearest instance of a distributed resource on the network, for example the nearest Domain Name Server
(DNS).
Anycast addresses are allocated out of the unicast address space, using any of the defined unicast address
formats. Thus, anycast addresses are syntactically indistinguishable from unicast addresses. When a unicast
address is assigned to more than one interface, thus turning it into an anycast address, the nodes to which
the address is assigned must be explicitly configured to know that it is an anycast address.

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n Multicast Addresses
An IPv6 multicast address is an identifier for a group of interfaces. An interface may belong to any number of
multicast groups. Multicast addresses have the following format:

11111111 flgs scop Group ID


(8 bits) (4 bits) (4 bits) (112 bits)

All multicast addresses begin with eight ones (0xFF).


• flgs: The three high-order bits are set to zero and the fourth bit (T -bit) indicates a permanently
assigned (“well-known”) multicast address (T=0) or a non-permanently assigned (“transient”)
multicast address (T=1).
• scop: Part of the network for which this multicast address is relevant; options include node-local
(0x1), link-local (0x2), site-local (0x5), organization-local (0x8), or global (0xE).
• The remaining 112 bits are the Group Identifier, which identifies the multicast group, either
permanent or transient, within the given scope.
A number of well-known multicast addresses are predefined, including:
• Reserved Multicast Addresses are reserved and never assigned to any multicast group. These
addresses have the form FF0x:0:0:0:0:0:0:0, where x is any hexadecimal digit.

• All Nodes Addresses identify the group of all IPv6 nodes within the given scope. These addresses
have the form FF0t:0:0:0:0:0:0:1, where t =1 (node-local) or 2 (link-local).

• All Routers Addresses identify the group of all IPv6 routers within the given scope. These
addresses have the form FF0t:0:0:0:0:0:0:2, where t =1 (node-local) or 2 (link-local).

ü How to obtain an IPv6 address

Users can obtain IPv6 addresses through different processes:


1. The first solution consists in using 6to4 addresses (2002::/16 prefix – please refer to 6WIND White
Paper « IPv6 – Transition Mechanisms »). IPv6 addresses are then derived from users’ global IPv4
addresses. There are limitations to this use, for instance in terms of routing, security and quality.
This solution should only be used when the other solutions are not available.
2. The se cond solution is to get 6BONE addresses (3FFE::/16). They are allocated by the 6BONE
registry (see www.6bone.net for details). These addresses should only be used for experimental
purposes and this is probably not safe to use them in the long term. Note that 6BONE addresses
may be deprecated in a few months.
3. The third solution is to get “Production” addresses, which means that users should get their IPv6
address space from their ISPs. ISPs are given prefixes by their local registries (www.apnic.net,
www.arin.net, www.ripe.net ).

ü Transition from IPv4 to IPv6

The work on transition strategies, tools, and mechanisms has been part of the basic IPv6 design effort from
the beginning. These transition design efforts resulted in a basic Transition Mechanisms specification for IPv6
hosts and routers which address the transition from the traditional IPv4-based Internet as we know it today,
to an IPv6-based Internet. It is expected that IPv4 and IPv6 will coexist for many years during this transition.
Migration methods are described in 6WIND White Paper « IPv6 – Transition Mechanisms ».

ü IPv6 address auto-configuration

IP address configuration is today one of the main tasks of IP system administrators. It is often a long, time-
consuming and tedious work that requires the use of expensive manual input. This configuration consists in
obtaining:
• An address when a machine is connected to a network for the first time.

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6WIND White Paper – IPv6: Features and Benefits - 05/03/2003

• A new address further to the machine renumbering on a site, for example after a change of access
provider.
IPv6 specification describes several types of address configuration:
• Manual address configuration: addresses are written in a local configuration file in every host.
This method does not require the implementation of a dedicated configuration protocol but it is
expensive in case of reconfiguration.
• Stateless address configuration: this method relies on the IPv6 address structure. IPv6
addresses are made of a prefix network and of an identifying interface. Prefixed networks are
generally advertised by routers on every link while the interface identifier is built locally in the host
either from the MAC address of the network card, or from a random token (for privacy addresses).
From these elements, every host can build its own IPv6 addresses. The configuration is limited to
prefix configuration in routers, machine hosts configuring automatically. The role of the router is
important in this method since it has to periodically advertise prefixes to be used on the medium
through the Neighbor Discovery protocol. However, the use of a router is not compulsory: if no
router is used, host stations still can make use of link-local addresses. Stateless address
configuration is possible only in IPv6 because the structure of IPv4 addresses does not allow it.
• Stateful address configuration: this method relies on a specific protocol such as DHCP. A host
which wants to obtain an IP address has to request it through a local client that communicates with
a remote relay or server. This kind of protocol is rather complex.
Auto-configuration methods are detailed in 6WIND White Paper « IPv6 – Auto-configuration Mechanisms ».

ü IPv6 and multicast

IPv6 fully supports multicast. In IPv6, the IPv4 Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) has been
replaced by the Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD) Protocol. MLD is in fact derived from IGMPv2 and both
protocols now evolve in a similar manner.
IPv6 multicast routing protocols are almost identical to IPv4 ones, PIM and DVMRP now support IPv6. New
multicast routing protocols such as PIM-SSM are even often implemented in IPv6 before being implemented in
IPv4.

Advantages of IPv6 for multicast are as follows:


• Each IPv6 implementation must support multicast (IPv6 itself is based on multicast),
• IPv6 addressing space is huge and this is very easy to allocate multicast addresses out of it.

ü IPv6 and privacy

As mentioned above, IPv6 nodes use IPv6 stateless address auto-configuration to generate addresses without
the necessity of a DHCP server. Addresses are formed by combining network prefixes with an interface
identifier. On interfaces that contain embedded IEEE Identifiers, the interface identifier can typically be
derived from it. This method is very simple and robust, but it makes it easy for eavesdroppers and other
information collectors to gather information on who is doing what.
IPv6 also supports random numbers in the interface ID field that are designed to change over time. This
feature in now used in most IPv6 host implementations. The use of these changing addresses makes it very
difficult to determine if different transactions originate from the same node.

ü IPv6 routing

Routing in IPv6 is almost identical to IPv4 routing under CIDR except that the addresses are 128-bit IPv6
addresses instead of 32-bit IPv4 addresses. With very straightforward extensions, all of IPv4’s routing
algorithms (RIP, OSPF, IS-IS, etc.) can be used to route IPv6.
IPv6 routing protocols are secured by IPsec.

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This document is copyright 2003 6WIND and may not be distributed without explicit permission by 6WIND.
6WIND White Paper – IPv6: Features and Benefits - 05/03/2003

ü IPv6 and underlying technologies

IPv6 can be used on top of all usual layer 2 technologies:


• Ethernet,
• 802.11,
• VLAN,
• Token Ring,
• ATM (PVC and SVC),
• PPP links, etc.

ü 6WIND SixOS IPv6 features

The 6WIND OS, SixOS, includes an IPv6 stack that is compliant with the latest IETF RFCs and drafts, as
listed below:

RFC number Title

RFC 1886 DNS Extensions to support IPv6

RFC 1981 Path MTU Discovery for IP version 6

RFC 2080 RIPng for IPv6

RFC 2292 Advanced Sockets API for IPv6

RFC 2460 Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) Specifications

RFC 2461 Neighbor Discovery for IP version 6

RFC 2462 IPv6 Stateless Auto-configuration

RFC 2463 Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMPv6) for the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)
Specification

RFC 2373 IP version 6 Addressing Architecture


(being updated)

RFC 2374 An IPv6 Aggregatable Global Unicast Address Format

RFC 2375 IPv6 Multicast Address Assignment

RFC 2428 FTP extension for IPv6

RFC 2464 Transmission of IPv6 Packets over Ethernet Networks

RFC 2465 Management Information Base for IP version 6: Textual Conventions and General Group

RFC 2466 Management Information Base for IP version 6: ICMPv6 Group

RFC 2473 Generic Packet Tunnelling in IPv6 Specification

RFC 2428 FTP Extensions for IPv6 and NATs (ftp only)

RFC 2474 Definition of the Differentiated Services Field (DS field) in the IPv4 and IPv6 Headers

RFC 2491 IPv6 over Non-Broadcast Multiple Access (NBMA) networks – (PVC mode only)

RFC 2492 IPv6 over ATM Networks – (PVC mode only)

RFC 2526 Reserved IPv6 Subnet Anycast Addresses

RFC 2553 Basic Socket Interface Extensions for IPv6


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6WIND White Paper – IPv6: Features and Benefits - 05/03/2003

RFC number Title

RFC 2710 Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD) for IPv6

RFC 2711 IPv6 Router Alert Option

RFC 2740 OSPF for IPv6

RFC 2472 IP version 6 over PPP

RFC 2545 Use of BGP-4 Multiprotocol Extensions for IPv6 Inter-Domain Routing

RFC 3306 Unicast Prefix Based IPv6 Multicast Addresses

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6WIND White Paper – IPv6: Features and Benefits - 05/03/2003

Ø ACRONYMS
ARP Address Resolution Protocol
ATM Asynchronous Transfer Mode
CIDR Classless Inter-Domain Routing
DHCP Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
DNS Domain Name Server
DiffServ Differentiated Services
DSL Digital Subscriber Line
DVMRP Distance-Vector Multicast Routing Protocol
FP Format Prefix
ICMPv6 Internet Control Message Protocol for IPv6
IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
IGMP Internet Group Management Protocol
IETF Internet Engineering Task Force
IGMP Internet Group Management Protocol
IP Internet Protocol
IPsec Internet Protocol Security
IPv4 Internet Protocol version 4
IPv6 Internet Protocol version 6
IS-IS Intermediate System to Intermediate System
ISP Internet Service Provider
MLD Multicast Listener Discovery
NAT Network Address Translation
OSPF Open Shortest Path First
PPP Point to Point Protocol
ICMPv4 Internet Control Message Protocol for IPv4
ICMPv6 Internet Control Message Protocol for IPv6
PDA Personal Digital Assistant
PIM-SSM Protocol-Independent Multicast - Single Source Multicast
PIM Protocol-Independent Multicast
RIP Routing Information Protocol
QoS Quality of Service
TLA Top-Level Aggregator
VLAN Virtual Local Area Network
WLAN Wireless Local Area Network

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This document is copyright 2003 6WIND and may not be distributed without explicit permission by 6WIND.