An IP (Internet Protocol) address is basically a postal address for each and every Internet-connected device. Without one, websites would not know where to send information/data each time you perform a search or try to access a website. IPv4 offers only about 4.3 billion IP addresses (specifically 4,294,967,296); which you most likely are familiar with already ( x.x.x.x; (1-255).(1-255).(1-255).(1-255) ). Through the use of techniques such as Network Address Translation (NAT) the life of IPv4 was extended, because NAT allows multiple devices to connected to the Internet through a single IP address, with the router in that particular household or business keeping track of which local device are receiving & sending data packets. But without IPv6,the Internet’s expansion and innovation could be limited, and the underlying infrastructure theoretically could become increasingly complex to manage; so a more expansive, address protocol has been deemed necessary.
IPv6, the latest – and possibly could be the ultimate addressing protocol, holds 2128 or 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 IP (340 billion billion billion billion) addresses. That is enough to give at least 4.3 billion IP addresses, or the addressing space of the current internet, individually to every person on Earth; or 7 billion current Internets!
Why the IPv6 protocol architects decided on such an unnecessary huge address space is unknown; Surely, 264 or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 (18.4 trillion million) would have been way too many already. It seems like a bad call on the planner’s part, simply too excessive, when instead each packet could contain 64 bits of extra data. However, if we want to ever give an IP address to every mappable cubic centimeter of Earth’s entire atmosphere, IPv6 will provide future generations that capability, and more.