The Viterbi-Algorithm (VA) is a common application of dynamic programming. The algorithm contains a nonlinear feedback loop (ACS-feedback, ACS: add-compare-select) which is the bottleneck in high data rate implementations. In this paper we show that, asymptotically, the ACS-feedback no longer has to be processed recursively, i.e., there is no feedback. With only negligible performance loss, this fact can be exploited technically to design efficient and purely feedforward architectures for Viterbi decoding that have a modular extendable structure. By designing one cascadable module, any speedup can be achieved simply by adding modules to the implementation. It is shown that optimization criteria, as minimum latency or maximum hardware efficiency, are met by very different architectures. © 1991 Kluwer Academic Publishers.