Specialized clustered very large instruction word (VLIW) processors combined with effective compilation techniques enable aggressive exploitation of the high instruction-level parallelism inherent in many embedded media applications, while unlocking a variety of possible performance/cost tradeoffs. In this work, the authors propose a methodology to support early design space exploration of clustered VLIW datapaths, in the context of a specific target application. They argue that, due to the large size and complexity of the design space, the early design space exploration phase should consider only design space parameters that have a first-order impact on two key physical figures of merit: clock rate and power dissipation. These parameters were found to be: maximum cluster capacity, number of clusters, and bus (interconnect) capacity. Experimental validation of their design space exploration algorithm shows that a thorough exploration of the complex design space can be performed very efficiently in this abstract parameterized design space.