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Posts Tagged ‘IPv6 Traffic Class

Let’s check out an IPv6 header.

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I touched on the IPv6 addressing scheme a few weeks ago before and I wanted to continue the trend into a few more IPv6 related posts but that last IPS post spiked my interest, so I had to publish that one.  Now we know the addressing scheme is different in IPv6 but what about the packet format? Obviously the packet headers will be larger because the source and destination addresses within that header are now 128 bits but let’s see what else we have in the IPv6 header:

IPv6 Packet Header

Now that doesn’t look too intimidating right? I think that looks a little simpler compared to the IPv4 packet header. Now let’s see what we got going on here:

  • Version: This field is in an IPv4 packet and simply tells us what version of IP we are running. Since this is an IPv6 packet it’s going to have a value of 6
  • Traffic Class: This is the equivalent of the DiffServ/DSCP portion of the IPv4 packet which carries the QoS markings of the packet. Just like in IPv4 the first 6 bits are designated for the DSCP value, and the next 2 bits are for ECN (Explicit Congestion Notifications) capable devices.
  • Flow Label: This field is 20 bits long and is defined in RFC 6437, I’ll admit finding information about the flow label is tough, but the RFC state this field could be used as a ‘hash’ for the routing devices look at and make forwarding decisions based on the field’s value. Its intention is for stateless ECMP (Equal Cost Multi-Path) or LAG mechanisms, but we will have to see how different vendors implement this feature. I’d take guess that IPv6 CEF will use the flow label, but I’ll have to wait and see.
  • Payload Length: Specifies the size of the data payload following the IPv6 header.
  • Next Header: This field is 8-bits and specifies the layer 4 transport protocol which follows the IP header. These values are hex format as well, you’ll notice ICMPv6 has a value of 0x3a, IPv6 protocol numbers use the same numbers that were used in IPv4. IANA’s list of protocol numbers can be found here.
  • Hop Limit: This is also an 8-bit field and replaces the TTL field that was in the IPv4 header. Each hop decrements the hop limit value by 1 and when the hop limit reaches Zero the packet is discarded.
  • Source/Destination: This should go without saying but it tells you the source IPv6 address of the packet and the destination IPv6 address this packet is destined to. As you would expect both of these field are 128-bits each.

So there is a snappy run down of the IPv6 IP Packet header, I think it is actually simpler than the IPv4 IP packet headers but don’t tell that to a Cisco router. Remember these packet headers are considerably larger than their IPv4 counterparts so it takes more processor power to process IPv6 packets which is not a problem for the ISR G2’s we have todays but it is something you might want to keep in mind when run IPv6 on older hardware.

Now back to CCIE: R/S Labbing I go!

Written by Stephen J. Occhiogrosso

January 10, 2013 at 10:02 AM

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