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Increasing diversity in packet-processing applications and rapid increases in channel bandwidth lead to greater complexity in communication protocols. These factors result in larger computational loads for packet-processing engines that introduce high performance microprocessor designs as an important solution. This paper presents an exhaustive simulation for exploring the performance of instruction-level parallel super scalar processors executing packet-processing applications. Based on the simulation results, a design space exploration has been used to derive performance-efficient application-specific super scalar processor architecture based on MIPS instruction set architecture. Simple Scalar architecture toolset has been used for design space exploration and network applications have been investigated to guide the architecture exploration. The optimizations achieve up to 80% improvement in performance for representative packet-processing applications.