What is an "Undecillion"?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ron Baklarz

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If you happened to have heard a large sucking sound yesterday, Thursday February 3, 2011, it was the sound of the Internet finally running out of 4.3 billion IPv4 Internet addresses.  

This is truly a momentous occasion and was celebrated by a press conference in Miami at 9:30 AM EST held by the Number Resource Organization (NRO), along with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).

Everyone knew this day was coming.  In 1977, Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the Internet, led a team of DARPA researchers in creating the IPv4 protocol and standard.

IPv4 addresses were comprised of four 8-bit numbers or 32-bits total, providing for 4.3 billion addresses.

Cerf indicated that they never expected his protocol to take off exclaiming, "Who the hell knew how much address space we needed?"

Not to worry, in 1999 an updated version, IPv6, was created and has been slowly been implemented into the fabric of the Internet ever since.

The new protocol allows for 340 undecillion addresses or 340 trillion groups of one trillion networks each - each network can handle a trillion devices.

To put it in perspective, if the current pool of 4.3 billion addresses were the size of a golf ball, the new 340 undecillion address space would be about the size of the sun. 

It is safe to say I won't be around to celebrate the day when they run out of IPv6 addresses!

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Lee Mangold Michael -

I too know a few organizations with under-utilized Class B subnets - Granted these are all government organizations. One location in particular has an entire class B and about 100 machines on the network...

The lead of one of these organizations got a little heated when I tried to explain why we use NAT at our location rather than public IP space for internal routing...

Just another day at the office!
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