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Designing ASICs for each new generation of backbone routers is a time intensive and fiscally draining process. We focus on the design of a programmable architecture for backbone routers, based on the manipulation of wide irregular memory words, that can provide a feasible design alternative to custom ASICs. We propose a pipelined memory design that emphasizes worst-case throughput over latency, and coexplore architectural tradeoffs with the design of several important network algorithms. Through this coexploration, we show that a programmable architecture can efficiently exploit behavior inherent to most common network algorithms to keep up with next generation network speeds.
Date of Conference: 9-11 June 2003