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In this paper, a cross-layer approach introducing new design parameters is developed for multi-rate wireless links. The novel design jointly exploits the finite-length queuing at the data link layer and the adaptation capability of the adaptive modulation and coding (AMC) scheme at the physical layer to optimize system performance for a wireless link. The analytical framework is based on discrete time Markov chain. The performance metrics such as packet drop probability, channel packet error rate and packet loss rate are derived. Using these metrics, a constrained optimization problem is solved numerically to maximize the overall system throughput.