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Internet protocol (IP) address lookup is one of the major performance bottlenecks in high-end routers. This paper presents an architecture for an IP address lookup engine based on programmable finite-state machines (FSMs). The IP address lookup problem can be translated into the implementation of a large FSM. Our hardware engine is then used to implement this FSM using a structured approach, in which the large FSM is broken down into a set of smaller FSMs which are then mapped into reconfigurable hardware blocks. The design of our hardware engine is based on a regular and well structured architecture, which is easy to scale. Our simulation results demonstrate that the FSM based architecture can easily scale to wire speed performance at OC-192 rates. Unlike previous approaches, the performance of our architecture is not constrained by memory bandwidth and is, therefore, in principle scalable with very large scale integration technology.