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Embedded Networking with IPv6

Posted: 19 Sep 2003     Print Version  Bookmark and Share


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Address space for Internet Protocol (IP) nodes is getting tight. Although not all of the 232

(roughly 4

billion) IPv4 addresses1

have been allocated yet (and in 2001 there was a slight dip in the previous

exponential growth)2

, it is expected that we will run out of addresses in the course of the next few years.

The next generation of IP (IPv6) extends the addressing space to 2128

(a number far beyond human

imagination, about 6.67 x 1023

addresses per square meter of our planet3

), making sure all of the many

future devices can get a unique address of their own.

Having enough addresses eliminates the need for network address translation (NAT)4

, temporary address

leases, and other kludges necessary to conserve the strictly rationed IPv4 addresses. Although there will

be significantly more desktop and server computers and other classic network devices, a tremendous

increase is expected to happen in a different area--lots and lots of small devices will change

internetworks as we know them today. The new network citizens are always-on wireless and mobile

devices like GPRS and UMTS cell phones or PDAs, and small embedded devices, monitors, sensors, and

smart nodes built into almost anything, from cars to water meters.

IPv6 not only extends the addressing space. By overhauling the IP, it makes configuration easy and

automatic (another must for embedded applications). It also makes the IP more robust, extensible, and

mobile, and adds security features, quality-of-service support, and faster and simpler routing. A severe

problem plaguing IPv4 is the unimpeded growth of the backbone routing tables because of the almost

random way IPv4 addresses were originally allocated. IPv6 is a better, reengineered IP and it will

gradually replace IPv4--there are just too many advantages to pass it by. Dual IPv4/6 network stacks

support mixed environments and allow for gradual adoption of IPv6.

IPv6 is becoming increasingly important, not only for its benefits but also because of government-

mandated adoption plans in several countries. Asia, especially Japan, was one of the first to adopt IPv6

because that region was somewhat shortchanged when IPv4 addresses were initially assigned. Yet, India

and China have the largest expected internetwork growth, both in relative and absolute numbers. IPv6 has

left the prototype stadium and is now a standard part of most operating systems, for example Microsoft


XP, Sun SolarisTM

8/9 etc.5

The following discussion briefly introduces IPv6 and describes how to use IPv6 networking with the

silicon software resident in a DS80C400 microcontroller. Basic network literacy and a working

knowledge of IPv4 are assumed.


The current IP is Version 4 (IPv4).


Due to the way IPv4 addresses are allocated, only about 160 million addresses are actually available.


The total Earth surface is approximately 509,917,870 square kilometers.


Or "IP masquerading."


Visit for more information.

Application Note 703

Embedded Networking with IPv6


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An important part of IPv6's auto-configurability is the way addresses are used. A 128-bit IPv6 address is

divided into a 64-bit prefix (net bits or subnet) and 64 host bits. The prefix, which also shows the scope of

an address, is either assigned by the network provider6

and broadcast by routers or it can be local to the

link or site. On an Ethernet, the host bits are usually derived from the device's unique MAC (media

access control) address (in the form of IEEE EUI-64). That means an IPv6 node is operational with a

valid IP address as soon as it is plugged in. To communicate globally, the node needs to solicit or listen to

the router broadcasts containing the prefix and combine the prefix with the EUI-64. Unlike the DHCP

addition to IPv4, all IPv6 nodes can be self-configuring, even in the absence of a server.

IPv6 addresses are written in hexadecimal notation in groups of 16 bits, for example

3ffe:aaaa:bbbb:cccc:260:8ff:fe8d:6ee9, which is an address of global scope. The same machine

would have the "link local" address fe80::260:8ff:fe8d:6ee9, where fe80::/64 is the prefix for link-

local addresses; /64 shows the length of the prefix and :: is short for 0s. The loopback host (

in IPv4 parlance) is simply ::1. Site local addresses have a prefix of fec0::/10. Since there is no direct

equivalent to site local addresses in IPv4, these addresses are rarely used now.

From a user's view, these long addresses are, of course, normally hidden behind DNS names like To serve IPv6 addresses, an IPv6-capable DNS server is required7

. There are no

fundamentally new concepts; an IPv6 address entry in the DNS would be created as example IN AAAA

3ffe:aaaa:bbbb:cccc:260:8ff:fe8d:6ee9 instead of the IN A record used for IPv4. Use of DNS is

strongly encouraged, since IPv6 address prefixes are expected to change more frequently. Network

renumbering is much easier than with IPv4 and it can even be automatic.

There are both unicast and multicast addresses in IPv6. In addition, a new anycast address destination

type was defined. A packet addressed to an anycast IP is delivered to the closest or best host out of

several hosts. Anycast helps achieve load balancing through routing8



Although IPv6 keeps the higher-layer protocols UDP and TCP without any changes, the IP packet header

of course had to be modified to accommodate the larger addresses. It was also cleaned up and streamlined

to be 64-bit aligned and to always have a fixed length for the benefit of routers; the IP header checksum

was removed since the higher-layer protocols already have a checksum that encompasses parts of the IP


An interesting modification is the replacement of ARP with the neighbor discovery protocol (NDP), part

of the new ICMPv6. Instead of broadcasting address resolution requests all over the campus, IPv6 maps

multicast groups and IPv6 addresses in a way that eliminates these broadcasts and ensures that nodes

(almost) only receive traffic that is really of interest to them.

Unfortunately, the details of ICMPv6 and multicasting are beyond the scope of this article. Visit for more information about IPv6 features.


Usually, 48 prefix bits are assigned by the ISP; 16 are at each site's discretion.


For example, BIND9 from


On IPv4, DNS load balancing (e.g., round robin) is commonly used, which does not take routing issues into consideration.


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TCP/IP on the DS80C400

The on-chip DS80C400 silicon software (ROM) contains the latest revision of the field-proven Dallas

TCP/IP stack. The silicon software also includes a small operating system and all utility functions needed

to develop small C or assembly language TCP/IP network client and server applications with as little as

128kB of external memory. The DS80C400 can also be used with the TINI.


runtime environment

when easier and more rapid application development is desired, or when any of the extended Java

features like object serialization are required.

The resident C and assembly language support is implemented in the form of a BSD and industry

standard cross-platform socket interface, i.e., functions like socket(), bind(), listen(), accept(),

connect(), send() etc.9


The TINI Java environment closely follows JDK 1.1.8 and supports the entire package; any

Java compliant compiler can be used. The TINI executes standard Java programs and byte codes. An

overview and detailed documentation for the TINI runtime can be found on the website at

In addition to network application support, the DS80C400 silicon software also implements network boot

functionality, which can load applications over TFTP, supporting both DHCP on IPv4 and, even easier,

TFTP over self-configuring IPv6. Figure 1 shows the DS80C400 network boot over IPv4 and IPv6,

respectively. The network bootloader is invoked either by a hardware pin on the DS80C400 or a user

command in the serial bootloader.


These and all other supported functions are documented in the DS80C400 User's Guide.


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Figure 1. Network Boot


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IPv6 on the DS80C400

The DS80C400 silicon software supports the IPv6 features needed10

to participate on the network and

follows the "Minimum Requirements of IPv6 for Low-Cost Network Appliances" draft11

. Because of

their resource-constrained nature, it is not anticipated that embedded devices will implement the full IPv6

feature set including security, mobile IP, and routing.

The adoption of IPv6 will be phased in over several years; the DS80C400 network stack, therefore, is an

integrated dual stack for both IPv4 and IPv6. There are ways to tunnel IPv6 over existing IPv4 networks

(6over4); since the DS80C400 supports both protocol families, it expects routers to tunnel packets if

necessary and does not perform protocol conversions itself.

Example 1 runs on the TINI 1.1 Java environment for the DS80C400 and shows fragments of a simple

multithreaded network server handling both IPv4 and IPv6 requests. There is no IPv6 specific code in this

example. Applications can usually be ported from IPv4 only to IPv4/6 with zero effort; only the printing

of IP addresses has to be checked and possibly replaced by a call to TINI 1.1 utility functions provided

for that purpose. The TINI 1.1 Java environment adds the Java 2 SE 1.4 Inet6Address class to support

IPv6. There were no other user visible changes required, all other changes are behind the scenes.

Example 2 is the core of a network client written in C that solely relies on the DS80C400 silicon

software. Again there is no IPv6-specific code, except for the target address. In the DS80C400 network

stack implementation, all network addresses are 128 bit long. Internally, IPv4 addresses are right-aligned

and the first 96 bits are set to 0. The example assigns an IPv6 target address and a target TCP port, creates

a socket and then connects to the target.


The IPv6 portion of the DS80C400 Silicon Software was developed in close collaboration with InternetNode, Inc., a joint venture of the

Japanese company Yokogawa and Wide Research Institute Co. Ltd.




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Example 1. TINI Java Network Server

// Listen to inbound TCP connections

private class listenTCPThread extends Thread


private ServerSocket serverSock;

public void run()


while (running) {

try {

// Create new thread for each client

Thread client = new clientTCPThread(serverSock.accept());



catch (Exception e) {}



private class clientTCPThread extends Thread


private Socket sock;

private InputStream is; private OutputStream os;

BufferedReader br;

public clientTCPThread(Socket s) throws IOException


sock = s;

is = s.getInputStream(); os = s.getOutputStream();

br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(is));


public void run()


// Loop while socket is open

try {

while (running) {

os.write(parseCommand(br.readLine().getBytes(), 0));





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Example 2. C Network Client


struct sockaddr target;

unsigned int s;


/* Fill sockaddr with valid IPv6 target address and port */

target.sin_addr[0] = 0x3f;

target.sin_addr[1] = 0xfe;


target.sin_addr[15] = 0xe9;

target.sin_port = 34000;

/* Open socket and connect to target address */

s = socket(0, SOCKET_TYPE_STREAM, 0);

result = connect(s, &target, sizeof(struct sockaddr));

... /* Send/receive data here */




IPv6 provides an unlimited number of IP addresses, auto-configuration, and a general streamlining of the

IP protocol. It is thus becoming more important for the success of network-embedded devices. The

DS80C400 makes writing an application that supports both IPv4 and IPv6 networking easy. Additionally,

the DS80C400's software has all the functions necessary to easily develop small TCP/IP network-client

server applications. Together, IPv6 and the DS80C400 offer so many compelling benefits for IP

networks, there is every reason to use them for all existing and new applications.

Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Solaris and Java are trademarks of Sun Microsystems.

TINI is a registered trademark of Dallas Semiconductor.

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