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Introduces NetBench, a benchmarking suite for network processors. NetBench contains a total of 9 applications that are representative of commercial applications for network processors. These applications are from all levels of packet processing; small, low-level code fragments as well as large application level programs are included in the suite. Using SimpleScalar simulator we study the NetBench programs in detail and characterize the network processor workloads. We also compare key characteristics such as instructions per cycle, instruction distribution, branch prediction accuracy, and cache behavior with the programs from MediaBench. Although the architectures are similar for MediaBench and NetBench suites, we show that these workloads have significantly different characteristics. Hence a separate benchmarking suite for network processors is a necessity. Finally, we present performance measurements from Intel IXP1200 Network Processor to show how NetBench can be utilized.