Every device connected to the Internet needs to have an identifier. Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are the numerical addresses used to identify a particular piece of hardware connected to the Internet.
The two most common versions of IP in use today are Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). Both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses come from finite pools of numbers.
For IPv4, this pool is 32-bits (232) in size and contains 4,294,967,296 IPv4 addresses. The IPv6 address space is 128-bits (2128) in size, containing 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 IPv6 addresses.
A bit is a digit in the binary numeral system, the basic unit for storing information.
Not every IP address in the IPv4 or IPv6 pool can be assigned to the machines and devices used to access the Internet. Some IP addresses have been reserved for other uses, such as for use in private networks. This means that the total number of IP addresses available for allocation is less than the total number in the pool.
IP addresses can be taken from the IPv4 or the IPv6 pool and are divided into two parts, a network section and a host section. The network section identifies the particular network and the host section identifies the particular node (for example, a certain computer) on the Local Area Network (LAN).
IP addresses are assigned to networks in different sized ‘blocks'. The size of the ‘block' assigned is written after an oblique (/), which shows the number of IP addresses contained in that block. For example, if an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is assigned a “/16”, they receive around 64,000 IPv4 addresses. A “/26” network provides 64 IPv4 addresses. The lower the number after the oblique, the more addresses contained in that “block”.
KB Article Edited: 2023-09-22
Source - RIPE NCC: Created: 04 Jan 2011 - Last updated: 09 Aug 2019