If you haven’t really heard anything about IPv6, the new improved TCP/IP protocol, apart from the fact that it exists and Vista can use it, Ars Technica can help you out.  The reason for the switch is due to the growth of things with IP addresses, it’s not just computers anymore; fridges, phones and coffeemakers all want them too.  According to the article, the total addresses possible number 4,294,967,296 with over 500,000,000 unusable, there are 3,700,000,000 usable addresses.  About 2,400,000,000 are in use right now (not counting people hiding behind NAT routers).  About 170,000,000 new addresses are given out each year, which means we run out of addresses in 7.5 years.  Makes it seem a little more important, eh?
“The IPng project eventually resulted in IPv6 in 1995. In addition to the source and destination addresses and other housekeeping information, each IP packet contains a version number. For reasons lost in the mists of time, current IP packets have version number 4, and the first version number available for the new protocol was 6. So the old IP is now called IPv4, and the new IP IPv6. Apart from autoconfiguration and a lot of minor details that are best left to another article, IPv6 first and foremost sports larger addresses. Much larger addresses. 40 or 48 bits would have given us more than a trillion or even 281 trillion addresses, respectively, and 64 bits would have been a nice round number. But as the axiom goes, once bitten, twice shy, so the IETF opted for 128 bits this time around. The total number of possible addresses that this gives us:


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