Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 6, 2012 04:04 PM
If the Internet is an information superhighway, the thing has been stuck in a traffic jam for years and it was getting worse. All of those new devices that can log onto the Internet – your car, your freezer (someday your dog?) has access – was causing the Internet’s address book to continue filling up fast. So the Internet Society, a global-standards-setting organization, has been working to fix the situation and finally made the big move Wednesday, as Google noted with a homepage link (and the video above).
The agency moved the Internet’s capabilities from 4.3 billion unique addresses to 340 undecillion. For the non-Saganites in the house, that's about 340 trillion trillion trillion, or a growth factor of 79 octillion (79 billion billion billion). In other words, massively ginormous.
The new standard, called IPv6, offers up “enough IP combinations for everyone in the world to have a billion billion IP addresses for every second of their life,” CNN notes. (Good news, by the way, because Cisco estimates that there will be three networked devices per human on the planet by 2016, as CNN also reported.)
The two standards, the outgoing IPv4, and the new one IPv6, will live together for some years as one is slowly worked out of the system and the other slowly begins to dominate. CNN notes that most major websites and networks have made the switch to IPv6 already.