This tutorial introduces the technology of network processors: what they are, their properties, where they fit in, their scope of work, advantages, and disadvantages. The main aim is to help the reader visualise the wide development scope of network processors through their architecture. However, the tutorial does not give an exhaustive description of any particular architecture. It also addresses the issues that held this technology back from wide deployment in the near past, and it touches on the future of the networking industry now that network processors have been in use for more than five years or so.

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