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Application-driven computers for lattice gauge theory simulations have often been based on system-on-chip designs, but the development costs can be prohibitive for academic project budgets. An alternative approach uses compute nodes based on a commercial processor tightly coupled to a custom-designed network processor. Preliminary analysis shows that this solution offers good performance, but it also entails several challenges, including those arising from the processor's multicore structure and from implementing the network processor on a field-programmable gate array.