The recent advances in VLSI technology, high-speed processor designs, Internet/Intranet implementations, broadband networks (ATM and ISDN) and compression standards (JPEG, MPEG, H.261, H.263 and G.273) are leading to the popularity of multimedia applications. Examples include, video over the internet, interactive TV, distance learning, telemedicine, and digital libraries. Multimedia refers to a combination of various media types including text, audio, 2D and 3D graphics, animation, images and video. Visual media (image, video and graphics) proliferation in multimedia applications demands high-powered compute engines, large storage devices, and high bandwidth networks for processing, storage, and transport of image/video data. Visual media processing poses challenges from several perspectives, specifically from the points of view of real-time implementation and scalability. There has been several approaches to obtain speedups to meet the computing demands in multimedia processing ranging from media processors to special purpose implementations. Note that a variety of parallel processing strategies are adopted in these implementations in order to achieve the required speedups. The objective of this paper to present a summary of the various architectural alternatives that exist for multimedia processing.