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A methodology for performance estimation of streaming media applications on different implementation platforms is presented. The methodology derives a complexity profile for an application as a platform-independent metric, and enables performance estimation on different platforms by correlating the complexity profile with platform-specific data. By example of an MPEG-4 advanced simple profile (ASP) video decoder, performance estimation results are presented for different platforms, including general-purpose processors and specialized architectures. As one particular benefit, the approach can be employed to assist in design decisions in the specification phase of new architectures.