Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol (IP), a basic communications protocol of the Internet. The most widely-used version of IP, IPv4 was first deployed in 1983. It uses a 32-bit address to identify devices on a network, providing access to over 4.3 billion devices and networks around the world.
IPv4 is considered to be the most efficient and stable version of the internet protocol, and for nearly two decades it was the only version of IP used for connecting different networks to the Internet. However, the growth of the Internet and the number of devices connecting to it meant that the address space of IPv4 was eventually exhausted. To address this issue, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) developed a successor protocol, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).
IPv6 was designed to address the challenge of IPv4’s 32-bit address space exhaustion, by introducing a much larger address space. It uses a 128-bit address, allowing for trillions of networks and devices to be connected to the Internet. This new address space also allows for an increase in the number of scheduled broadcasts, allowing for more efficient data transmission over the Internet. Additionally, IPv6 eliminates the use of the Network Address Translation (NAT) protocol used in IPv4, improving data efficiency and reliability.
IPv6 is slowly being adopted by ISPs and network administrators around the world as the primary version of Internet Protocol. While some legacy systems still use IPv4, it is increasingly being replaced by IPv6 due to the advantages it provides.