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A network processor is an integrated circuit, with a feature set designed to tackle the needs of the networking application domain. Typically NPs are software programmable and have generic functions, which are similar to general purpose central processing units, commonly used in many different products. Due to the fact that in modem telecommunication systems information is transferred in a packet form instead of the analog signals used in older systems, a need has arisen to develop ICs optimized to handle such packet forms of data. These ICs are called NPs and they make use of specific features or architectures to enhance and optimize packet processing in computer networks.
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