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Application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design is too risky and prohibitively expensive for many applications. This trend, combined with increasing silicon capability on a die, is fueling the emergence of application-specific programmable architectures. This focus on architecture design for network processors has made programming them an arduous task. Current network processors require in-depth knowledge of the architecture just to begin programming the device. However, for network processors to succeed, programmers must efficiently implement high-performance applications on them. Writing high-performance code for modern network processors is difficult because of their complexity. NP-Click is a simple programming model that permits programmers to reap the benefits of a domain specific language while still allowing for target-specific optimizations. Results for the Intel IXP1200 indicate that NP-Click delivers a large productivity gain at a slight performance expense.
Date of Publication: Sept.-Oct. 2004