Written by Roy Turse
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Friday, 4 March 2011

image for Ooops! IP version 6 may not be big enough! Hugh Jintidger is worried

Concern is growing in the scientific and computing communities that the addressing scheme for Internet Protocol version 6 may not big enough. IP addresses are the unique identifiers assigned to networked devices. They are used to reference each individual connection to the Internet. IP version 6 is due to replace the current system, IP version 4, due to the lack of available addresses.

When it was devised, IP version 6 had the capacity to reference a massive number of things, assigning them all a unique number. Chief technology reporter for the Spoof, Poignton Clyk, spoke to one of the leading experts in the field, Hugh Jintidger, who explained the problem.

"You see in IP version 4 there were about four point three billion addresses," began Mr Jintidger, "It seemed plenty to start with, but that's not enough for every person on the planet to have one. As a result, we have just run out. IP version 6 attempts to resolve this issue, but some of us are concerned it may not be enough."

"Well," asked Poignton, "How many addresses will it give us? And how many do you think we need?"

"Well, put it like this," Jintidger said, "If you wanted to give a unique number to each of the atoms on the Earth's surface, IP version 6 would have enough addresses. In fact you could do that a hundred times."

Poignton was amazed. "Surely that will be enough? What's the problem?"

"What if we wanted to give an address to all the atoms that make up the Earth? We don't know what we need yet, so why not allow for the biggest number of addresses we could possibly want?"

"So what would you suggest?" asked Poignton.

"I and several of my esteemed colleagues think it should be ten to the power of eighty," suggested Hugh Jintidger, "because this is the current estimate for how many atoms there are in the observable universe."

"I see," said Mr Clyk, "So exactly how many addresses are there in IP version 6?"

"They can't all be used for various reasons," said Jintidger, "but it's only three hundred and forty undecillion, two hundred and eighty-two decillion, three hundred and sixty-six nonillion, nine hundred and twenty octillion, nine hundred and thirty-eight septillion, four hundred and sixty-three sextillion, four hundred and sixty-three quintillion, three hundred and seventy-four quadrillion, six hundred and seven trillion, four hundred and thirty-one billion, seven hundred and sixty-eight million, two hundred and eleven thousand, four hundred and fifty-six."

"Shit. I can see why that's a problem. Anyway, thank you for talking with me."

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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