Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth revision in the development of the Internet Protocol (IP) and the first version of the protocol to be widely deployed. Together with IPv6, it is at the core of standards-based internetworking methods of the Internet. As of 2012 IPv4 is still the most widely deployed Internet Layer protocol.
IPv4 is described in IETF publication RFC 791 (September 1981), replacing an earlier definition.
IPv4 is a connectionless protocol for use on packet-switched Link Layer networks (e.g., Ethernet). It operates on a best effort delivery model, in that it does not guarantee delivery, nor does it assure proper sequencing or avoidance of duplicate delivery. These aspects, including data integrity, are addressed by an upper layer transport protocol, such as the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
IPv4 stands for Internet Protocol version 4. It is the underlying technology that makes it possible for us to connect our devices to the web. Whenever a device access the Internet (whether it’s a PC, Mac, smartphone or other device), it is assigned a unique, numerical IP address such as 126.96.36.199. To send data from one computer to another through the web, a data packet must be transferred across the network containing the IP addresses of both devices.
Without IP addresses, computers would not be able to communicate and send data to each other. It’s essential to the infrastructure of the web.
IPv4 uses 32-bit (four-byte) addresses, which limits the address space to 4294967296 (232) addresses. Addresses were assigned to users, and the number of unassigned addresses decreased. IPv4 address exhaustion occurred on February 3, 2011. It had been significantly delayed by address changes such as classful network design, Classless Inter-Domain Routing, and network address translation (NAT).
This limitation of IPv4 stimulated the development of IPv6 in the 1990s, which has been in commercial deployment since 2006.
IPv4 reserves special address blocks for private networks (~18 million addresses) and multicast addresses (~270 million addresses).
IPv4 addresses may be written in any notation expressing a 32-bit integer value, but for human convenience, they are most often written in the dot-decimal notation, which consists of four octets of the address expressed individually in decimal and separated by periods.
The following table shows several representation formats:
|Notation||Value||Conversion from dot-decimal|
|Dotted hexadecimal||0xC0.0x00.0x02.0xEB||Each octet is individually converted to hexadecimal form|
|Dotted octal||0300.0000.0002.0353||Each octet is individually converted into octal|
|Hexadecimal||0xC00002EB||Concatenation of the octets from the dotted hexadecimal|
|Decimal||3221226219||The 32-bit number expressed in decimal|
|Octal||030000001353||The 32-bit number expressed in octal|
Originally, an IP address was divided into two parts: the network identifier was the most significant (highest order) octet of the address, and the host identifier was the rest of the address. The latter was therefore also called the rest field. This enabled the creation of a maximum of 256 networks. This was quickly found to be inadequate.
To overcome this limit, the high order octet of the addresses was redefined to create a set of classes of networks, in a system which later became known as classful networking. The system defined five classes, Class A, B, C, D, and E. The Classes A, B, and C had different bit lengths for the new network identification. The rest of an address was used as previously to identify a host within a network, which meant that each network class had a different capacity to address hosts. Class D was allocated for multicast addressing and Class E was reserved for future applications.
Starting around 1985, people devised methods to subdivide IP networks. One flexible method was the variable-length subnet mask (VLSM).
Around 1993, this system of classes was officially replaced with Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR), and the class-based scheme was dubbed classful, by contrast. CIDR was designed to permit repartitioning of any address space so that smaller or larger blocks of addresses could be allocated to users. The hierarchical structure created by CIDR is managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and the regional Internet registries (RIRs). Each RIR maintains a publicly searchable WHOIS database that provides information about IP address assignments.
Of the approximately four billion addresses allowed in IPv4, three ranges of address are reserved for use in private networks. These ranges are not routable outside of private networks, and private machines cannot directly communicate with public networks. They can, however, do so through network address translation.
The following are the three ranges reserved for private networks
|Name||Address range||Number of addresses||Classful description||Largest CIDR block|
|24-bit block||10.0.0.0–10.255.255.255||16777216||Single Class A||10.0.0.0/8|
|20-bit block||172.16.0.0–172.31.255.255||1048576||Contiguous range of 16 Class B blocks||172.16.0.0/12|
|16-bit block||192.168.0.0–192.168.255.255||65536||Contiguous range of 256 Class C blocks||192.168.0.0/16|
Virtual private networks
Packets with a private destination address are ignored by all public routers. Two private networks (e.g., two branch offices) cannot communicate via the public internet, unless they use an IP tunnel or a virtual private network (VPN). When one private network wants to send a packet to another private network, the first private network encapsulates the packet in a protocol layer so that the packet can travel through the public network. Then the packet travels through the public network. When the packet reaches the other private network, its protocol layer is removed, and the packet travels to its destination.
Optionally, encapsulated packets may be encrypted to secure the data while it travels over the public network.
An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique identifier for a node or host connection on an IP network. An IP address is a 32 bit binary number usually represented as 4 decimal values, each representing 8 bits, in the range 0 to 255 (known as octets) separated by decimal points. This is known as "dotted decimal" notation.
It is sometimes useful to view the values in their binary form.
140 .179 .220 .200
Every IP address consists of two parts, one identifying the network and one identifying the node. The Class of the address and the subnet mask determine which part belongs to the network address and which part belongs to the node address.
There are 5 different address classes. You can determine which class any IP address is in by examining the first 4 bits of the IP address.
Class A addresses begin with 0xxx, or 1 to 126 decimal.
Class B addresses begin with 10xx, or 128 to 191 decimal.
Class C addresses begin with 110x, or 192 to 223 decimal.
Class D addresses begin with 1110, or 224 to 239 decimal.
Class E addresses begin with 1111, or 240 to 254 decimal.
Addresses beginning with 01111111, or 127 decimal, are reserved for loopback and for internal testing on a local machine. [You can test this: you should always be able to ping 127.0.0.1, which points to yourself] Class D addresses are reserved for multicasting. Class E addresses are reserved for future use. They should not be used for host addresses.
Now we can see how the Class determines, by default, which part of the IP address belongs to the network (N) and which part belongs to the node (n).
Class A -- NNNNNNNN.nnnnnnnn.nnnnnnn.nnnnnnn
Class B -- NNNNNNNN.NNNNNNNN.nnnnnnnn.nnnnnnnn
Class C -- NNNNNNNN.NNNNNNNN.NNNNNNNN.nnnnnnnn
In the example, 188.8.131.52 is a Class B address so by default the Network part of the address (also known as the Network Address) is defined by the first two octets (140.179.x.x) and the node part is defined by the last 2 octets (x.x.220.200).
In order to specify the network address for a given IP address, the node section is set to all "0"s. In our example, 184.108.40.206 specifies the network address for 220.127.116.11. When the node section is set to all "1"s, it specifies a broadcast that is sent to all hosts on the network. 18.104.22.168 specifies the example broadcast address. Note that this is true regardless of the length of the node section.
There are three IP network addresses reserved for private networks. The addresses are 10.0.0.0/8, 172.16.0.0/12, and 192.168.0.0/16. They can be used by anyone setting up internal IP networks, such as a lab or home LAN behind a NAT or proxy server or a router. It is always safe to use these because routers on the Internet will never forward packets coming from these addresses
Subnetting an IP Network can be done for a variety of reasons, including organization, use of different physical media (such as Ethernet, FDDI, WAN, etc.), preservation of address space, and security. The most common reason is to control network traffic. In an Ethernet network, all nodes on a segment see all the packets transmitted by all the other nodes on that segment. Performance can be adversely affected under heavy traffic loads, due to collisions and the resulting retransmissions. A router is used to connect IP networks to minimize the amount of traffic each segment must receive.
Applying a subnet mask to an IP address allows you to identify the network and node parts of the address. The network bits are represented by the 1s in the mask, and the node bits are represented by the 0s. Performing a bitwise logical AND operation between the IP address and the subnet mask results in the Network Address or Number.
For example, using our test IP address and the default Class B subnet mask, we get:
10001100.10110011.11110000.11001000 22.214.171.124 Class B IP Address
11111111.11111111.00000000.00000000 255.255.000.000 Default Class B Subnet Mask
10001100.10110011.00000000.00000000 140.179.000.000 Network Address
Default subnet masks:
Class A - 255.0.0.0 - 11111111.00000000.00000000.00000000
Class B - 255.255.0.0 - 11111111.11111111.00000000.00000000
Class C - 255.255.255.0 - 11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000
CIDR -- Classless InterDomain Routing.
CIDR was invented several years ago to keep the internet from running out of IP addresses. The "classful" system of allocating IP addresses can be very wasteful; anyone who could reasonably show a need for more that 254 host addresses was given a Class B address block of 65533 host addresses. Even more wasteful were companies and organizations that were allocated Class A address blocks, which contain over 16 Million host addresses! Only a tiny percentage of the allocated Class A and Class B address space has ever been actually assigned to a host computer on the Internet.
People realized that addresses could be conserved if the class system was eliminated. By accurately allocating only the amount of address space that was actually needed, the address space crisis could be avoided for many years. This was first proposed in 1992 as a scheme called Supernetting.
The use of a CIDR notated address is the same as for a Classful address. Classful addresses can easily be written in CIDR notation (Class A = /8, Class B = /16, and Class C = /24)
It is currently almost impossible for an individual or company to be allocated their own IP address blocks. You will simply be told to get them from your ISP. The reason for this is the ever-growing size of the internet routing table. Just 5 years ago, there were less than 5000 network routes in the entire Internet. Today, there are over 90,000. Using CIDR, the biggest ISPs are allocated large chunks of address space (usually with a subnet mask of /19 or even smaller); the ISP's customers (often other, smaller ISPs) are then allocated networks from the big ISP's pool. That way, all the big ISP's customers (and their customers, and so on) are accessible via 1 network route on the Internet.
It is expected that CIDR will keep the Internet happily in IP addresses for the next few years at least. After that, IPv6, with 128 bit addresses, will be needed. Under IPv6, even sloppy address allocation would comfortably allow a billion unique IP addresses for every person on earth