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Modern network interfaces demand highly intelligent traffic management in addition to the basic requirement of wire speed packet forwarding. Several vendors are releasing network processors in order to handle these demands. Network workloads can be classified into data plane and control plane workloads, however most network processors are optimized for data plane. Also, existing benchmark suites for network processors primarily contain data plane workloads, which perform packet processing for a forwarding function. We present a set of benchmarks, called NpBench, targeted towards control plane (e.g., traffic management, quality of service, etc.) as well as data plane workloads. The characteristics of NpBench workloads, such as instruction mix, parallelism, cache behavior and required processing capability per packet, are presented and compared with CommBench, an existing network processor benchmark suite [T. Wolf et. al., (2000)]. We also discuss the architectural characteristics of the benchmarks having control plane functions, their implications to designing network processors and the significance of instruction level parallelism (ILP) in network processors.