: Today’s network processor utilize parallel processing in order to cope with the trafﬁc growth and wire-speed of current and future network technologies. In this paper, we study two important parallel programming models for network processors: run to completion and pipelining. In particular, the packet ﬂow of a standard network application, IPv4 Forwarding, through two examined network processors, IBM PowerNP NP4GS3 and Intel IXP1200, is reviewed and characterized in respect to their programming models. Based on a benchmark for PC-cluster SANs, their application throughput and latency for Gigabit Ethernet is investigated and compared to a commercial, ASIC-based switch. It is shown that in this scenario network processors can compete with hard-wired solutions.